The ‘Kia Challenge’ does not lead to an increase in car thefts in the Valley

The social media challenge purportedly shows how to hack several models of a Kia or Hyundai with the USB stick.

PHOENIX – Videos claim all you need to steal a Kia or Hyundai is a screwdriver and a USB charger.

However, is the claim real? And is it leading to an increase in car thefts in the Valley?

The Kia Challenge is leading to an increase in car thefts.

  • Valley police departments
  • COME
  • Hyundai
  • TIK Tok

In the Valley, no. According to the Valley police departments, there is no apparent increase in car thefts due to the “Kia Challenge”.

However, other parts of the country, especially in the Midwest, are seeing thefts on the rise.

The challenge exists in social media. A Tiktok spokesperson confirmed that they have seen and removed the videos showing how a person could steal some models of a Kia or Hyundai with a USB port.

“TikTok does not condone this behavior which categorically violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform.” a TikTok spokesperson said.

The trend seems to have originated in Milwaukee, where “The Kia Boyz” have been stealing cars for years.

In Arizona, the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale and Tempe police departments say they haven’t seen an increase in thefts of Kia or Hyundai cars.

Instead, the most common vehicle stolen is the Chevy Silverado.

However, the technique is used in other parts of the country.

According to the statements, the affected cars are Kias and Hyundais with “turn to start” steel key configurations that do not have engine immobilizers. Engine immobilizers do not allow an engine to start unless the correct key is present.

Kia released the following statement about the challenge and what interested customers can do.

“Kia America remains concerned about the increase in vehicle thefts of a subset of Kia vehicles. It is unfortunate that criminals are using social media to target vehicles without engine immobilizers in a coordinated effort. All of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Standards of Motor Vehicle Safety.

While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are looking for vehicles equipped with only a steel key and the “turn to start” ignition system. Most 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 start of the model year or as a change in direction.

Kia America has provided steering wheel locking devices at no cost to law enforcement in the affected areas to prevent vandalism and theft. This effort will continue in close coordination with local police departments for distribution to interested owners of Kia vehicles that were not originally equipped with an immobilizer.

Kia customers with questions about their specific vehicle should contact the Customer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).

Hyundai gave the following statement about their cars:

Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent increase in vehicle thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles. While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media. Criminals target our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles manufactured after November 1, 2021.

To help customers with previous year vehicles without immobilizers, Hyundai has worked and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available to affected Hyundai owners. Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech / Compustar security kit that targets the method entry thieves use to break into these vehicles.

Beginning October 1, 2022, this safety kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealers and authorized Compustar installers nationwide. Hyundai will provide additional details soon, and customers with questions can always contact the Hyundai Customer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151.”

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