A viral challenge across TikTok and YouTube has led to a spike in thefts of Kia and Hyundai models throughout the United States.
The ‘Kia Challenge’ shows social media users how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai models by simply removing the plastic cowl under the steering column and using a USB cable. The issue has become particularly prevalent in Milwaukee where there is a group of young teenagers known as the ‘Kia Boys’ who have become notorious for stealing cars and taking them on dangerous joyrides.
It’s not just in Milwaukee where car thefts have surged, though. In St. Petersburg, Florida, the police department says that 23 out of the 56 cars stolen on local streets since July 11 have been Kia and Hyundai models that are 2021MY and older. Writing on Twitter, authorities encouraged Hyundai and Kia owners to be cautious.
“Anyone with a Kia/Hyundai that uses a key, please #lockitup,” it wrote.
Read More: Thefts Of Hyundai And Kia Models Are Soaring Throughout The U.S.
KIA & Hyundai Theft Alert!#stpete pd is seeing an unusual trend.Since July 11th, 23 out of 56 stolen cars have been Kia/Hyundais models 2021 and older,that use keys to start.
Anyone with a KIA/Hyundai that uses a key, **please** #lockitup pic.twitter.com/l2ZwVHP7cd
— St. Pete Police (@StPetePD) July 27, 2022
Speaking with the Tampa Bay Times, police state that Kia models produced from 2011 and 2012 and Hyundai models from 2015 to 2021 have a vulnerability that means the ignition can be easily bypassed. Most of the individuals stealing Kia and Hyundai models are aged between 14 and 17.
St. Petersburg Police Department Sgt. Cody Lance says the majority of the cars that are stolen are unlocked and encouraged owners to always lock their vehicles. He also encouraged the use of steering wheel locks and said that parking vulnerable Hyundai and Kia models behind other vehicles can make them more difficult to steal.
The trend is spreading across the country. As we reported last week, authorities in St. Paul, Minnesota have reported a more than 1,300 percent increase in Kia thefts from last year and a 854 percent increase in stolen Hyundais. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hyundai and Kia models also made up roughly 45 per cent of the city’s auto thefts in June. Spikes in thefts have also been reported in St. Louis, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Columbus.
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CarScoops has reached out to both Hyundai and Kia seeking comment on the matter.
Earlier this month, the two car manufacturers revealed that they were aware of the increase in thefts and noted that all of its current models are fitted with engine immobilizers.