SPRING LAKE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Spring Lake police said teens are targeting Hyundai and Kia drivers, stealing dozens of the cars in the past four months.
One woman said she nearly lost her car to the trend, but her boyfriend caught the suspects in the act.
"I thought they would stop making Clubs but Lord, did they come back in good hand," Lizzie Holden said of the steering-wheel locking anti-theft device.
Holden told ABC11 that having her Kia broken into two weeks ago has changed the way she drives. That night, her boyfriend, James Evans, said he saw someone with a flashing light trying to jump her car outside her apartment.
"I see the light, and then I came outside, Evans said. "And two guys, automatically when they seen me come out, they got out the car and ran."
Evans said he later spotted a third suspect, but they got away while he told Holden to call the police. He said a neighbor saw them, too, claiming one of them had a gun. Holden said her mechanic took four days to fix her torn steering wheel.
Within the last 24 hours, elected officials from cities across the country called on the federal government to issue a recall for Kias and Hyundais vulnerable to these thefts.
Hyundai said thieves have found a way to bypass the cars' security features and then spread that information on social media. Hyundai said it has taken action to help customers, including upgrading software and installing engine immobilizers on cars produced since November 2021.
Just in Spring Lake, Police Chief Dysoaneik Spellman said there have been 60 of these crimes in the past year with two-thirds of those happening since October, a clear increase.
"Ninety percent of the vehicles were unsecured and during that investigation, we were able to identify six juveniles during this time," Spellman said. "Of course, juvenile petitions have been leveled against each juvenile so at some point, secure custody orders will be put in place."
Spellman said investigations are ongoing and urged vulnerable drivers to update their security systems at their dealerships.
"Make sure you keep your car locked at all times," Evans said. "I don't care if you're going to Walmart. They'll take your car right out from under you."