Archive for September 11, 2022

TikTok Challenge Results In Lots Of Stolen Kia And Hyundai Cars

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 11, 2022 by itnerd

Today I have the story of yet another TikTok challenge that has resulted in something bad happening. In this case, it’s kids…. Yes kids stealing Kia and Hyundai cars:

A dangerous challenge spreading on TikTok and other social media platforms has car owners and police departments on alert across the country — challenging young teens to steal certain cars off the street using a USB cord.

The target? Certain makes and models of 2010-2021 Kia and Hyundai vehicles that use a mechanical key, not a key fob and push-button to start the car. Investigators tell CNBC the trend started last year and the number of cars being stolen is continuing to surge across the country. 

And:

The trend challenges teens to steal a car off the street by breaking into the car, popping off the steering wheel column and hot wiring the vehicle using a USB cable, similar to the wire used to charge a phone. 

“The viral nature of how this has taken off on social media — it’s accelerated this like we’ve never seen,” [Cook County Sheriff Tom] Dart said. ”[The perpetrators are] doing it in 20 to 30 seconds. It literally is as old-fashioned as you can imagine.”

Dart told CNBC the thieves are mainly young teens — some, not even old enough to legally drive. The stolen cars are often used for joyrides, or used to commit other crimes and then abandoned on the side of the road, he said.

“We had an 11-year-old who was one of our most prolific stealers … the notion that they can drive is a fantasy,” Dart said. 

The thieves post videos online of stealing and driving the cars, using the hashtag “Kia Boys” — which has more than 33 million views on TikTok. The social media company said in a statement it “does not condone this behavior which violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform.”

Now when it comes to blame, I assign a bit of the blame to Hyundai and Kia who clearly have cars that are easily stolen. Though they are doing something about it:

A Kia spokesperson said the company is concerned about the increase in thefts and has provided steering free wheel lock devices to law enforcement officials in affected areas.

“It is unfortunate that criminals are using social media to target vehicles without engine immobilizers in a coordinated effort,” the spokesperson said.

“While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel key and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition system. The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and “push-button-to-start” system, making them more difficult to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.”

A Hyundai spokesperson said the company is pursuing a similar effort to distribute steering wheel locks and that the company will begin selling a security kit next month.

You have to wonder if this is under the category of “too little, too late.” But at least they are trying. That might have something to do with 12 class action lawsuits being filed against them. But you have to wonder what TikTok is doing about this? They really should be doing more to stop this as this is largely being done on their platform. The best that they could say is this:

TikTok has said that it does not condone videos about stealing Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which violate the video app’s policies and will be removed if found.

Not even close to good enough in my opinion. TikTok really has to do more to stop being the source of “challenges” like this.