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The theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles nearly tripled this summer. You may be able to trace this trend back to a TikTok video in which the self-named “Kia Boys” showed would-be ne’er-do-wells how to easily steal certain Kia and Hyundai models. Though TikTok has deleted the original video, police departments and the automaker are still struggling to contain this crime wave.

Who are the Kia Boys?

A masked man--like the Kia boys--attempts to force entry into a parked car with a bright orange crowbar, trees visible in the background.
Car thief | Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The term Kia Boys was first used to describe a pair of masked young men who starred in TikTok video showing how to steal certain Kia cars. As other TikTok users discovered how many years of Kia and Hyundai cars were susceptible to this “hack” making them easy to steal, the phrase Kia Boys expanded. On TikTok, it now refers to anyone who steals multiple Kia or Hyundai cars for joy rides or other purposes.

The initial explainer video appears to have been shot in Milwaukee. For several months, Milwaukee, Wisconsin was certainly the capital of Kia and Hyundai theft.

It appeared that TikTok users were responding to a “challenge” to steal a Kia, even if they had no use for the car. Many Milwaukee residents reported their Kia and Hyundai cars stolen, even from outside their homes–according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Kia theft trend has expanded to many other cities in the U.S. Back in August of 2021, 58 Chicago residents reported having a Kia or Hyundai stolen. In August 2022 that number was up to 601. St. Louis reports that Kias and Hyundais make up 48% of all vehicles stolen this year.

Which Kia and Hyundai cars are at risk?

A Kia sign in front of a dealership parking lot, a blue Kia Soul visible behind it.
Kia dealership | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Authorities report that Kias at risk include some models built from 2011 through 2021. Hyundais only include certain vehicles from 2016 through 2021.

Thieves have found they can remove the car’s ignition key tumbler and start it with a USB charging cable instead of a key. But to do this, they need to locate a car with a traditional, steel key–not a push-to-start. In addition, cars with a “chip” key should prevent the engine from starting if their advanced key is not nearby.

For this reason, the Kia Boys advised would-be thieves to locate an entry-level Kia. This means the “LX” trim, across various models.

Is there any solution to the Kia Boys’ hack?

Ford Crown Victory Police cruiser that reads Milwaukee Police drives through an intersection, buildings visible in the background.
Milwaukee police cruiser | Nuccio DiNuzzo via Getty Images

Kia claims it’s solved the “Kia Boys” security vulnerability, presumably by including a chip key and engine immobilizer with every car. But Kia owners have reported that their 2022 models are still being stolen.

The automaker reminded the WSJ that “no car can be made theft-proof.” That said, thieves responding to a TikTok trend are looking for an easy car to steal. We certainly hope that the Kia/Hyundai company can make its next generation of cars secure enough to foil the “Kia Boys.”

Next, read about the time a manual transmission prevented a car theft or see Fox News’ investigation into the Kia Boys in the video below:


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