Hyundai and Kia cars, trucks, and SUVs have been under scrutiny after a TikTok challenge makes the vehicles easy to steal. A 16-year-old stole a Kia Sorento sport utility vehicle Sunday night and crashed it, leading to the death of four teenagers. Is the Kia TikTok challenge to blame?
The Kia TikTok challenge might have influenced this SUV theft
Earlier this week, the New York Post said four teenagers in Buffalo, New York, died in an early morning accident. The four victims and two other teens rode in a Kia Sorento stolen using the new Kia TikTok challenge method. A 16-year-old driving the Kia lost control Monday morning and crashed, ejecting all five of the passengers. These passengers ranged in age from 14 to 17.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia suggested the idea to steal the SUV might have come from this new Kia TikTok challenge. The Kia Boys (or Kia Boyz) spread an easy way to steal Kia and Hyundai cars with just the USB port. This allows anyone to steal the car without issue and has led to an incredible jump in vehicle thefts.
The owner of the Kia involved in this accident reported the vehicle stolen on Sunday night, and the crash occurred early Monday. Police have not released the driver’s name since he is a minor. The New York Post reports that he has been charged with “unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal possession of stolen property.” He is due back in court in November.
Thanks to the Kia TikTok Challenge, many cities have seen a rise in Hyundai and Kia thefts
Kia and Hyundai owners have been offered a solution to the ongoing thefts. Local police departments are giving Kia and Hyundai owners the ability to pick up a free steering wheel lock this week to help deter thieves. Owners filed a class-action lawsuit in Orange County, California, that states these Kia and Hyundai vehicles were improperly built. It notes that Kia cars, trucks, and SUVs made between 2011 and 2021 do not have the anti-theft engine immobilizer. For Hyundai, vehicles built between 2015 and 2021 are susceptible to this type of theft.
A security kit will be available at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar stores for $170. This should help secure the vehicle so it cannot be stolen via a USB cable. In some areas of the country, thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles are up 90% in recent months.
You can protect yourself and your car from theft
Yotam Ophir, ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Buffalo’s communication department, spoke to local news station WIVB. “Isolating a specific video that seems detrimental, and assuming that it has a huge impact over people’s behavior, is just unreasonable from an empirical point of view. That’s not how media effects work,” he said.
Ophir went on to say that most people don’t know about such challenges, and it wouldn’t be enough to convince someone to steal a car. While police have not blamed the Kia TikTok challenge for this incident, Joseph Milosich of the Tonawanda Police Department suggested a few ways to protect your car.
If you can, park in your garage and lock your doors. It would be best if you locked your doors anyway, but leaving an easy way in only increases your chances of theft. If you can get ahold of one of those steering wheel locks or security kits, that is enough to deter most thieves.