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A new TikTok challenge is showing how to hot-wire cars. Kias and Hyundais are vulnerable, LAPD warns

Los Angeles City Hall is reflected in the windows of the Los Angeles Police Headquarters. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times/TNS)
September 09, 2022

Los Angeles police issued an alert Thursday saying a TikTok trend may be behind an uptick in thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles, with viral videos from across the country exposing a weakness in the cars’ ignitions that can make them easier to hot-wire.

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The “TikTok Kia/Hyundai social media challenge” is likely a factor in a rise in theft of Kias and Hyundais, the LAPD alert said. The vehicles last year made up about 13% of all stolen vehicles, but this year that number has increased to about 20%, police said.

The vehicles at risk do not have an ignition immobilizer, which makes the cars easier to compromise, according to the LAPD. Police officials said Kia and Hyundai owners should consider utilizing a steering wheel locking device or antitheft system to deter such auto thefts.

TikTok videos about the stolen vehicles are shared frequently on the social media website, as well as documenting the process of how the cars are stolen. Many local news outlets have covered the issue, citing the mostly anonymous, so-called “Kia Boys” as the culprits, especially in Milwaukee, where it appears the trend may have started or has become most widespread.

The LAPD provided these additional tips on how car owners can help prevent thefts:

  • Install a battery disconnect switch.
  • Install a kill switch, which may require a professional installation
  • Lock all windows and doors.
  • Park in a well-lit area.
  • Park in a secured location like a garage or a parking structure.
  • Install a GPS tracking device.

Anyone with information about vehicle thefts can call the LAPD’s 24-hour toll free number at (877) 527-3247 or L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS, or (800) 222-8477.


© 2022 Los Angeles Times

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