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Kia, Hyundai car theft spurs TikTok challenge

A dangerous challenge spreading on TikTok and other social media platforms has alerted auto owners and police departments across the country. It’s a challenge for his teens to steal a specific car on the street with a USB cord.

target? Select Kia and Hyundai makes and models from 2010 to 2021 use a mechanical key to start the vehicle instead of a key fob or push button. The investigator told his CNBC that the trend began last year and the number of stolen cars continues to soar across the country.

In St. Petersburg, Florida, police report that more than a third of car thefts since mid-July have been linked to TikTok challenges. Officials in Los Angeles say the viral trend has led to an 85% increase in auto thefts from Hyundai and Kia cars compared to last year.

The story is the same in Chicago, according to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

“Only within our jurisdiction, [thefts of certain models are] We’ve grown over 800% in the last month,” he said. “There is no end in sight.”

The trend has been driven by teens breaking into cars, crashing through steering wheel columns, and hot-wiring vehicles with USB cables, similar to the wires used to charge cell phones, to get people out of the street. I am trying to steal a car.

“The virality of this on social media is accelerating like never before,” says Dart. “[The perpetrators are] You can do it in 20 to 30 seconds. Literally as old-fashioned as you can imagine. “

Dart told CNBC that the thieves were mostly teenagers, some not even old enough to legally drive. Stolen cars are often left on the side of the road, used for recreation or for other crimes, he said.

“There was an 11-year-old boy who was one of the most prolific thieves. The idea that they could drive is an illusion,” says Dart.

Thieves have posted videos online of stealing and driving cars using the hashtag “Kia Boys,” which has over 33 million views on TikTok. In a statement, the social media company said, “We do not tolerate such behavior that violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform.”

Illinois resident Karen Perkins said her 2019 Kia Sorento was stolen from her apartment on August 6.

“I looked out the window and realized my car was gone,” Perkins said.

A few days later, she said the missing Kia passed right by her as she was in her rental car at a red light.

“I saw a teenage boy sitting in the front,” Perkins said. “I ran around the block… five kids actually jumped in my car. I started to panic, I thought I was going to lose the car forever.”

Perkins told CNBC that he went hunting to track down his Kia. A few hours later she found it abandoned on the side of the road and called the police. She said the abandoned Kia was left badly damaged.

“They crashed the front of my car…they damaged the bumper,” Perkins said. It was written.”

Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based filmmaker Tom Gerszewski tracks viral crimes on his YouTube boys documentary,has already surpassed 3.7 million views.

“This is what they do for after-school entertainment,” Gerszewski told CNBC.

Missouri attorney Ken McClane said the automakers (Kia and Hyundai) were partially to blame for the robbery.

McClain calls this problem a “flaw”. His company has so far filed class action lawsuits in his 12 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Texas. He is also preparing to apply in his seven other states.

“We get dozens of calls a day,” says McClain. “Manufacturer[s] this should be paid “

Kia and Hyundai could not comment on the number of vehicles included in the make and model year that could be at risk.

A Kia Motors spokesman said the company was concerned about an increase in thefts and had provided steering free wheel locking devices to law enforcement officers in the affected areas.

“It is unfortunate that criminals are using social media to coordinate their efforts against vehicles without engine immobilizers,” said the spokesperson.

“No car can be stolen, but criminals are looking for vehicles with only a steel key and a ‘turn to start’ ignition system. Most Kia vehicles in the US are equipped with key fobs and “push buttons”. -button-to-start’ system makes theft more difficult. All 2022 Kia models and trims will have the immobilizer applied at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.

A Hyundai spokeswoman said the company is working on a similar initiative to distribute steering wheel locks and will start selling security kits next month.

Cook County Sheriff’s Dart said an old-fashioned wheel lock anti-theft device can go a long way in deterring theft.

“It’s nearly impossible to steer a car,” he said.

— CNBC Specials Page Peter Ferrarse contributed to this report. Kia, Hyundai car theft spurs TikTok challenge

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