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TikTok Thieves Steal Kia and Hyundai Cars in Viral Challenge

KIA broken into

Owners of select Hyundai and Kia models are being asked to take precautions when parking vehicles due to a rise in auto thefts. And while cars are pretty high-tech these days, this easy hack quickly went viral on YouTube and TikTok because thieves use only a USB cable to steal vehicles.

Update, 2/15/23: This week, Hyundai announced a free anti-theft software upgrade for owners susceptible to car jacks from the viral challenge. This includes a new sticker, longer alarms, and requires a physical key even on keyless start vehicles. More models will receive updates in the future, and you can learn more on the Hyundai website

Thieves have targeted KIA models from 2011 to 2021 and Hyundai models from 2015 to 2021 because of a “vulnerability” that allows them to remove the steering column cover, then use a USB cable to steal the car. The vandals can quickly release the wheel lock, then use the USB cable to override the system, turn it like a key, and drive off.

If your Hyundai or KIA falls in the years mentioned above and does not have a push-to-start button, it’ll be easy to steal. Why is this happening? Well, these models do not include a factory-installed anti-theft device called an immobilizer. In many modern cars, immobilizers use a transponder chip to authenticate a key against a vehicle’s ECU. Without one, well, the results are apparent.

To make matters worse, this is a trend on social media. The so-called “KIA Boyz” are stealing cars and posting videos to YouTube, and there’s even a “Kia Challenge” trend on TikTok. You can’t make this stuff up.

The problem began in Milwaukee in 2021 but is now spreading to more regions and gaining popularity thanks to social media. Several teenagers were recently arrested in Jacksonville and charged with grand theft auto, and the teens said they boosted the vehicle after seeing it online.

Thankfully, Hyundai and KIA are aware of the situation and have since fixed the problem for all 2022 models. However, that doesn’t help owners with older vehicles worried about their cars getting stolen.

In Milwaukee, Korean car theft is on the rise, increasing 2,500 percent year over year. Now would be a good time to buy one of those old-school steering column locks because every little bit helps. Grab yours from the link below.

Winner International The Club 1000 Original Club Steering Wheel Lock, Red

The Club is a visual and physical anti-theft device that locks your steering column. If you have an older Hyundai or KIA, this could help.

via The Drive

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »