Police throughout the country are sounding the alarm on the TikTok “Kia Challenge” after the trend caused a spike in thefts of some Kia and Hyundai models!
The viral social media challenge shows how a person can hotwire a car with only a screwdriver and a USB phone charger. This technique has made car models without a push-to-start button, especially 2011-21 Kia models and 2015-21 Hyundai models, vulnerable to thieves, according to KETV Omaha.
Some Owners of these vehicles have filed a class action lawsuit in Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa stating the cars are “unsafe” and “worthless” compared to what they paid. Car owners say automobile manufacturers made the vehicles without engine immobilizers, which are electronic devices that make it harder to start cars without keys.
According to Tampa Bay Times, the trend began in Milwaukee in 2021 and has spread drastically across the nation. The viral group who goes by the “Kia Boys” are believed to have started this reckless challenge, causing accidents and damage throughout the city and with the stolen cars. Some of the boys can be as young as 12 years old.
Previously, TikTok issued a statement saying that these videos violate the platform’s guidelines and have since been removed.
Harmon Handy is one of many victims affected by this trend. His Kia Sorrento was stolen last month and left with $7,500 in damages. “[I] thought you needed that key fob to start it and apparently you don’t,” Handy told the outlet. “The most frustrating part about it is just how pointless it is, that the only reason to do it is just to grab the car and trash it.”
In Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, police have received 642 reports of Kia and Hyundai car thefts since July 1. According to ABC News, an outrageous increase from last year’s 74 reported thefts.
To avoid car theft, the National Insurance Crime Bureau advises drivers of these models to utilize visible or audible devices, such as steering wheel locks, brake locks, wheel locks, steering column collars, audible alarms, and theft deterrents decals to discourage potential thieves. Authorities also recommend parking in well-lit areas and public locations.