WASHINGTON - The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task-Force (PSATT) is putting out a warning to drivers after a "challenge" went viral on TikTok which shows people how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
The "challenge" demonstrates how to hotwire and steal Kia models from 2011 and newer, and Hyundai models from 2015 and newer using a USB cable.
If those vehicles require a key in the ignition, they are at risk.
PSATT said if the vehicles use a push button to start, they are not at risk for theft in this manner.
"The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task-Force is aware of the "Kia TikTok Challenge" currently circulating media platforms. We are extremely concerned about the significant security risk of these vehicles and have seen a large increase in Kia thefts over the past few days because of the media coverage of this ‘challenge,'" PSATT said in a statement.
The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task-Force is a multi-jurisdictional agency, so it's unclear how many car thefts were attributed to this "challenge."
However, the agency released information on some of the thefts related to the "Kia TikTok Challenge" that occurred in Pierce County over the last two days:
- 2021 Kia Seltos stolen from a residence in Tacoma and located in the 8200 of Hosmer St. Officers observed multiple suspects run from this vehicle and another vehicle, a 2021 Kia Soul. The Kia Soul had been stolen overnight and the owner was unaware. Both vehicles were recovered.
- 2016 Kia Forte stolen from a residence in Tacoma.
- 2020 Kia Soul crashed into a light pole in Tacoma. Vehicle had been stolen overnight and owner was unaware. Suspects fled on foot.
- 2021 Kia Forte stolen from the Canyon Park Apartments.
- 2019 Kia Sportage stolen from a residence in Puyallup. Vehicle recovered near Liberty Ridge Lane E and 108th Ave.
- 2018 Kia Forte was broken into at the Pacific Arbor Apartments in Parkland and damage was done to the steering column and ignition.
- 2013 Kia Rio was stolen from the Miramonte Apartments in Parkland.
- 2014 Kia Forte was stolen from the Miramonte Apartments in Parkland.
- 2012 Kia Forte was stolen from the Crystal Springs Apartments in Parkland.
- 2018 Hyundai Elantra was broken into at the Country View Condos and damage was done to the steering column and ignition.
The task-force said most of the thefts and attempted thefts occurred at apartment complexes. In some cases, locked vehicles and car alarms prevented the theft altogether.
PSATT says there are some things you can do to prevent car thefts:
- Consider purchasing a steering wheel lock, a locking rod-type device that stretches across your car’s steering wheel to prevent it from being steered properly. So if a thief is able to start your car, the lock will prevent them from driving away with it.
- Install a hidden GPS in order to track your vehicle if it is stolen, PSATT recommends.
- Install a hidden kill switch so the vehicle cannot be started even if the ignition is defeated
If you witnessed a theft or know someone involved in the "challenge," contact PSATT at 253-329-2422 or email at AutoTheftTips@wsp.wa.gov.
FOX 13 News reached out to both KIA and Hyundai regarding this crime trend. Both companies responded with statements.
"Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim level vehicles. All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change.
All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia) "
"Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent rise in auto 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 are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021.
In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners. Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech / Compustar security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles.
Beginning October 1, 2022, this security kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. Hyundai will provide additional details soon, and customers who have questions can always contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151."