TikTok ‘Kia Challenge’ fuels rise in use of USB cables to steal cars
- A TikTok challenge has been linked to spikes in the use of USB chargers to steal Kia and Hyundai cars.
- Car thieves called “Kia Boys” post tutorials on how to steal cars and videos of rides on social media.
- Police in Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas have reported higher rates of Kia and Hyundai thefts since the trend began.
Viral “Kia Challenge” videos posted on TikTok and YouTube have led to a rise in car thefts nationwide, as the instructional videos explain how to steal a car using only a USB charging cord.
The videos, posted online by accounts including 414HypeHouse, show car thieves targeting unlocked Kia and Hyundai vehicles, removing the hood from under the column near the steering wheel and using a USB cable to start the stolen cars. Some videos show the thieves – called “Kia Boys” – walking into the stolen cars and running them over or throwing them.
In Milwaukee, Wis., where the trend appears to have started, thefts of Hyundai and Kia models account for 66% of car thefts, Carbuzz reported, which are up 2,500% from a year ago.
The St. Petersberg, Florida Police Department also said he “sees an unusual trend” in car thefts linked to social media posts.
“As of July 11, 23 out of 56 cars stolen are 2021 and earlier Kia/Hyundai models, which use keys to start,” the police department said. posted on Twitter. “Anyone who owns a KIA/Hyundai that uses a key, please #lockitup.”
Similarly, Kias and Hyundais are targeted in Arlington, Texas, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Kia models from 2011 to 2012 and Hyundai models from 2015 to 2021 are targeted due to a “vulnerability” that allows them to start after the steering column is broken, said Sgt. Cody Lance, who investigates auto thefts for the St. Petersburg Police Department, told the Tampa Bay Times.
The incidents have turned dangerous on several occasions across the country, with suspects and bystanders seriously injured or killed as a result of dangerous driving and robbery-related accidents.
In statements sent to USA TODAY, Kia and Hyundai said they were aware of the thefts and that all of their vehicles “meet or exceed” federal motor vehicle safety standards.
Representatives for Kia and Hyundai did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.