As a result of a TikTok craze where thieves hotwire cars using a USB connection, Kia and Hyundai have responded to a wave of car thefts.
Many of the viral trends that TikTok is known for having are absolutely innocuous, but some of them have drawn a lot of criticism for being risky or even against the law.
One pattern that appears to have been prevalent on TikTok since last year involves thieves preying on specific Hyundai and Kia automobile models from 2010 to 2021 that use mechanical keys rather than key fobs and push buttons to start the car.
The “trend” is sometimes referred to as the “Kia Boys fad,” and numerous videos about it have gone viral on TikTok, whether they are of the actual theft or of Kia owners documenting the damage caused when their car was broken into.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart stated to CNBC that “[thefts of particular models] are] up over 800% in the last month in our area alone. No resolution is in sight, in our opinion.
The viral nature of how this spread on social media, he continued, “has expedited this as we’ve never seen.” It takes [the perpetrators] 20 to 30 seconds to complete. It is genuine and as dated as you can imagine.
According to a Kia spokeswoman, the automaker is concerned about the thefts and has given law authorities in the impacted areas complementary steering wheel lock devices.
They said it was regrettable that thieves were utilizing social media in a coordinated effort to target cars lacking engine immobilizers.
While it is impossible to make a car theft-proof, thieves specifically target cars with steel keys and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition systems.
The majority of Kia cars sold in the US come with a key fob and “push-button-start” technology, which makes them more difficult to steal. An immobilizer is installed in all 2022 Kia trims and models, either at the start of the model year or as a running update.
A Hyundai spokeswoman announced that they will start selling security kits starting in the following month and that they are working to make steering wheel locks available as well.