CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Car thefts across the Queen City are at a historic high.  

A massive uptick in thefts started after a TikTok challenge encouraged and taught viewers how to steal Kia and Hyundai models.  

In recent months, the car manufacturers have donated thousands of steering wheel locks to law enforcement across the country, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.  

But is it too little, too late? 

“I was under the impression I was in a relatively safe community,” Charlotte resident Nadia Salamah said.  

It started with an unexpected knock at her door.  

“It was a cop asking when was the last time I had seen my car,” Salamah recalled. “When was it was missing? If I knew it was missing. Obviously, I didn’t. I had just woken up.”  

Her Hyundai was stolen from her Wesley Heights apartment complex overnight, only to be spotted hours later parked in a driveway less than two miles down the road.  

“My back window was smashed in, and then where my key ignition went, it was basically torn apart because someone basically took a jackhammer to it,” Salamah said.  

Salamah’s experience is not isolated.  

“Oh, I don’t have a car tomorrow, with no say,” another victim tells Queen City News.  

Upwards of nine million drivers nationwide are dealing with an alarming trend that’s gaining the attention of car manufacturers and lawmakers.  

After pushback from attorneys general, cities and customers – Hyundai and Kia have agreed to pay upwards of $200 million to settle claims. Both companies announced anti-theft software earlier this year, but drivers aren’t happy with the lack of urgency.         

“I mean, they knew that these certain models between 2015 and 2021 were being targeted for theft, but they did nothing to contact me saying, ‘Hey, there is a recall,’ or that there is a height in theft for these vehicle models,” Salamah said. “I loved my car so much and now I don’t want to drive it anymore because I feel like I am constantly going to be worried about it being stolen.”