Kia and Hyundai owners who’ve uploaded videos of themselves to the TikTok app may be in danger! The TikTok challenge has taken social media by storm, and in doing so, has also sparked a lot of interest from car thieves. So far, there have been over 30 reported incidents of Kia and Hyundai owners being targeted by would-be thieves after uploading TikTok videos. Luckily, so far, no accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of these dangerous actions.
Car owners and police agencies around the nation are on high alert after a hazardous challenge involving young kids to take specific automobiles off the street using a USB connection began to circulate on TikTok and other social media platforms.
The target? Certain brands and models of Kia and Hyundai cars manufactured between 2010 and 2021 start the car with a mechanical key rather than a key fob or push button. According to investigators, the national trend began last year and the number of auto thefts is still on the rise.
More than a third of all automobile thefts in St. Petersburg, Florida, since mid-July have been connected to the TikTok challenge, according to authorities. According to Los Angeles officials, the viral trend has increased auto thefts of Hyundais and Kias by 85% when compared to previous year.
Tom Dart, the Cook County Sheriff, claims that the situation is the same in Chicago.
“Thefts of some models are up over 800% in the last month in our jurisdiction alone,” he claimed. “There is no end in sight,”
Teenagers are being challenged to steal a car off the street by getting inside, removing the steering wheel, and then hot wiring the car using a USB cable that is comparable to the one used to charge a phone.
“This has escalated like we’ve never seen,” Dart said of the way it became popular on social media. It takes [the perpetrators] 20 to 30 seconds to complete. It is genuinely as dated as you can imagine.
According to Dart, the majority of the thieves are young adolescents, some of whom are even too young to drive. According to him, the stolen vehicles are frequently used for joyrides, used to conduct additional crimes, and then left by the side of the road.
The idea that children can drive is a fiction, according to Dart, who noted that one of his most frequent thieves was 11 years old.
Using the hashtag “Kia Boys,” which has received more than 33 million views on TikTok, the criminals upload films to the internet in which they steal and drive the vehicles. It was said in a statement by the social media firm that it “does not condone this behaviour, which violates our principles and will be deleted if identified on our site.”
Karen Perkins, a resident of Illinois, reported that on August 6, someone took her 2019 Kia Sorrento from in front of her apartment.
Perkins claimed, “I discovered my automobile was gone when I peeked out the window.
Days later, she claimed that her missing Kia went straight past her as she waited at a red light in a rental car.
Perkins said, “I spotted a teenage boy seated in the front.” I started to fear as I drove around the block when five youngsters really hopped into my car. I felt as though I was going to lose my automobile forever.
According to Perkins, she embarked on the quest to find her Kia. She phoned the police when she discovered it deserted by the side of the road hours later. She said that the abandoned Kia was severely damaged.
Perkins claimed, “They slammed the front of my car and broke the bumper.” “They even scribbled “hot automobile” on the top of my ceiling.”
They damaged my car’s bumper when they smashed into the front of it, Perkins said. “They even scribbled ‘hot automobile’ on the top of my ceiling,” the speaker said.
The “Kia Boys Documentary” on Tom Gerszewski’s YouTube channel, which has amassed views of over 3.7 million, follows the viral crime wave. Gerszewski is a filmmaker located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
According to Gerszewski, this is how they pass the time after school. They don’t actually feel any pity for the folks they are torturing.
An attorney in Missouri named Ken McClain claims that Kia and Hyundai are partially to responsible for the theft spree because they made vehicles that are too simple to steal.
McClain called the issue a “defect.” His company has filed class action cases in 12 states so far: California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Texas. Additionally, he is getting ready to file in as many as seven other states.
Every day, we get hundreds of calls, McClain said. “The manufacturer[s] should be responsible for covering this.”
How many vehicles are included in the make and model years and may be at danger was a question that Kia and Hyundai were unable to answer.
The business is worried about the rise in thefts, according to a Kia representative, and has given steering free wheel lock devices to law enforcement officers in the impacted locations.
The spokeswoman said: “It is terrible that thieves are utilising social media in a concerted attempt to target cars without engine immobilisers.
While it is impossible to make a car theft-proof, thieves specifically target cars with steel keys and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition systems. The majority of Kia cars sold in the US come with a key fob and “push-button-start” technology, which makes them more difficult to steal. An immobiliser is installed in all 2022 Kia trims and models, either at the start of the model year or as a running update.
The business is pursuing a similar strategy to distribute steering wheel locks, according to a Hyundai representative, and will start selling security kits next month.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office’s Dart believes that the traditional wheel lock anti-theft devices might be quite effective in stopping the thefts.
He claimed that it made driving the automobile “almost hard to manage.”