Kia owners were given software updates and wheel locks during the event Saturday, August 12. Photo by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

Kia sedans, coupes and SUVs of all colors, makes and models lined up inside the gates of the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center Saturday morning. Some would get help fighting the recent rash of thefts of Kias digitally, while others received hardware that might help.

Both Kia USA and the City of Atlanta participated in a theft software upgrade event outside of the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center Saturday morning. The event allowed local Kia owners to either get a free software update for models between the years 2011-2021 or receive a free wheel lock. 

Atlanta Police Department officers assisted with distribution of the wheel locks. Photo by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

The wheel locks were distributed by Atlanta Police Department officers and investigators. A number of Atlanta Police Academy recruits were seen taking boxes of the wheel locks off of a truck and onto a table for distribution. Up to 1,000 wheel locks were on hand for Kia owners that were eligible for the software upgrade. Volunteers from Kia Manufacturing Georgia in West Point and Calavan Kia, a dealership in Lithia Springs, also helped expedite the lines and check VINs for eligibility for the software updates.

Multiple Kia models have been stolen in Atlanta at an accelerated rate. The 2011–2021 Forte, 2021–2022 K5, 2011–2020 Optima, 2011–2021 Rio, 2011–2021 Sedona, 2021–2022 Seltos, 2010–2022 Soul and 2011–2022 Sorento have been targeted the most, according to a million-dollar settlement in California. 

The event took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kia owners had their VINs checked to see if their cars were eligible for the software update.
Photo by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

The move to make security software updates available can be seen as a way to get out in front of any potential settlements in Georgia. Hundreds of Kia owners experienced their cars being stolen this year. 

“There are two levels,” said James Bell, head of communications for Kia America, about being involved in the event Saturday. “The Atlanta Police Department has been proactive about helping with crime issues involving Kias and we have a big production plant in West Point, so we love Georgia.” 

The event took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and took between 10-15 minutes to be downloaded into the systems. Stickers were placed on the front windshields of cars as they left the Civic Center. The hope is that thieves will think twice about stealing the cars that have the most up-to-date technology.  

Safety tips listed on a flier distributed by Kia volunteers asked owners to not leave keys or key fobs in cars, leave cars running while unattended, and to leave cars locked “every time you walk away from it.”

Bell stated that there will be more events like this taking place around the country. “If this event goes well, and by the looks of things it is, we might be back in Georgia to do this again,” he said. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...