Huge Increase in Hyundai, Kia Thefts Blamed on TikTok Challenge

( – Since 2021, Kia and Hyundai owners have been plagued by vehicle thefts, inspired by a TikTok and social media craze started by users posting under the “Kia Boyz” hashtag. The videos show people how to start up a Kia or Hyundai using the tip of a phone charger or USB cable, allowing them to steal the car and post videos of the resulting joyrides to their social media accounts. A national study has shown that Hyundais and Kias are stolen almost twice as often as other makes of vehicle.

The models affected are older versions without the push-button start mechanism and immobilizer system. It affects mainly 2011-2021 Kias and 2015-2021 Hyundais, which use a mechanical key ignition system. Some owners report multiple thefts of the same vehicle, incurring high costs due to repeated repairs. 

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said in December, the kids stealing the cars were as young as 12, explaining, “This problem started because a TikTok challenge happened earlier this year.”

TikTok released a statement that these videos violate site policies and will be removed if found on the platform, but YouTube and Instagram have yet to respond to media inquiries. Meanwhile, Kia and Hyundai face dozens of lawsuits from owners complaining the cars are too easy to steal.

TikTok has been associated with a wide variety of “crazes” since its inception in 2016, some of which are merely silly, but some have been dangerous. The “Benadryl Challenge” resulted in at least one death and several near-fatal incidents. The “Blackout Challenge” dared people to choke themselves until they passed out and has been linked to 20 deaths in multiple countries. 15 of the 20 deaths were amongst children aged 12 or younger, as TikTok has a higher number of younger users than other social media platforms.

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