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Not only is car theft on the rise, in general, but the way people steal cars is getting increasingly complex. Our obsession with remote-controlled everything is coming back to bite us. Kia and Hyundai owners are in danger of their cars getting stolen using a USB cable thanks to the new horrible TikTok “Kia Challenge.” 

What is the TikTok “Kia Challenge?”

According to Autoevolution, the Kia Challenge emerged after a video uploaded to TikTok of someone starting a Kia with a USB cable went viral. Now Kia and Hyundai owners are reporting their cars stolen at alarming rates. 

Are people really doing the Kia Challenge?

an orange kia niro parked in a neighborhood
2022 Niro | Kia

Stories of Kia and Hyundai owners are popping up like weeds. An Indiana woman recently reported finding her Kia with the driver’s window smashed, the steering column taken apart, and a USB cable sitting up front. Thankfully, the Kia Challenge didn’t work for the vandals. They appear to have figured out how to use the USB cable to start the car. Even though they didn’t manage to steal the car, the owner still has to fix all the damage.

Along with the damage, the would-be car thieves also stole two bicycles, the owner’s wallet, and some cans of juice. 

A Kentucky woman named Hannah Reitz more recently reported her car stolen

“We were at an Airbnb located in Butchertown, Louisville. We were parked right outside the Airbnb. I left for dinner in an Uber, came back, and noticed that the car was not there,” Reitz said. 

According to CBS WKYT, she believed her car was towed at first. Seeing how that didn’t add up, the realization set in that she had been robbed. 

“It was definitely a freakout moment. A little bit of tears, a little bit of, ‘what do I do?’ Then from there, just kind of calm down and call 911 and go through the steps of a stolen vehicle,” Reitz said.

Can you really start a Kia or Hyundai with a USB cable? 

Fuel-efficient hybrid SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid
The Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid SUV in the mountains | Hyundai

Investigators call this weird hot wiring tactic a “design flaw” that leaves the South Korean cars vulnerable. 

“I had never heard of this trend. I learned the trend after it was over. So it’s a TikTok trend floating around. I don’t get on TikTok because I’m not a kid that has all that time,” Reitz said.

Investigators managed to recover her car, but it’s being held in an impound lot until the investigation is concluded. The authorities warn that any Kias newer than 2011 or Hyundais newer than 2015 are the cars most susceptible to this strange theft trend.