Kia and Hyundai vehicles with physical keys manufactured between 2010 and 2021 – and subsequently without engine immobilizers that act as a security measure – are being targeted for theft as part of a Kia Challenge on TikTok. This has caused an uproar from car owners, increased vehicle theft across the country, and brought into question the practices of Hyundai Motor Group through lawsuits.
What’s happening with Kia and Hyundai dealership cars? How are police, automakers, and car owners responding? And how long will this criminal social media trend continue?
The TikTok Trend That Started it All
In 2021, a trend began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, of people creating TikTok videos showing them starting Kia and Hyundai vehicles using a USB instead of keys. It grew from that to videos of people breaking into and starting these cars, taking them for joyrides, and abandoning them after doing some damage.
Then it spread from Milwaukee to the rest of the nation until it finally reached the public eye in the past few months as a genuine threat. Now, reports on how many Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in the last year, lawsuits against the automaker, and stories of loss for vehicle owners and families of young children enthralled by the trend are all over the media.
How are people handling the criminal activity around them, and what are Hyundai Motor Group and the police doing to resolve the issue?
Responses from Car Owners, Manufacturers, and Police
Police are working around the clock to find stolen vehicles and assist vehicle owners in protecting their property. Some departments have made statements about working with families to hold youth – the most common culprits of theft and damage in this trend, many calling themselves Kia Boyz and Girlz – accountable and prevent more thefts from occurring.
Hyundai and Kia have provided steering wheel locks to help prevent potential thieves from accessing the ignition area. Hyundai plans to have a purchasable security kit available in October 2022 that can be purchased and installed at Hyundai dealerships in affected areas.
Car owners consider this too little, too late, and have filed lawsuits against Hyundai Motor Group in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, and Texas. Some attorneys allege that the automaker knew of the safety risk but was willing to overlook it to save a few hundred dollars by not installing engine immobilizers in their vehicles.
Will the Trend Die Out Soon?
Hyundai and Kia have reported that all of their new vehicles have engine immobilizers to prevent this theft in the future. In addition, car owners are being advised on safety practices, and police are working hard to end viral vehicle thefts.
But will this end the Kia Challenge? It’s hard to say. Now that more information is reaching the public, the theft rate will slow, but that doesn’t mean it will end overnight.
Luckily, the worst of it may be over soon with the introduction of security kits and anti-theft updates available from Kia and Hyundai dealership locations in the next month. In the meantime, it may be time to trade in your old Kia or invest in a new alarm system to scare off the Kia Boyz.
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