A video that has garnered millions of views on TikTok explains to viewers how to steal cars made by Hyundai and Kia, sending owners into a panic. Police Departments across the U.S. report a sudden rise in car thefts.
According to automotive experts, cars that use traditional ignition keys are the vehicles that are at risk. Gary Rome, owner of Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke, Mass., says the video targets 2015 to 2021 Hyundais and Kias.
“Anything ‘22 and newer already has the immobilizer kit on there,” Rome told Western Mass News.
According to the TikTok video, presented as a “TikTok Challenge,” anyone can start and steal one of these cars using only a screwdriver and a USB cable.
Ashley Foote of New York was one of the early victims. Her car was stolen in July while she was vacationing in Missouri and before the troublesome trend was widely known. She told WMAR-TV in Baltimore she apparently interrupted the thieves when she briefly returned to her car to get something.
“When I got into my car, there were about five different USB cords in the car, so it seemed as though they were just trying different cords," Foote told the station. "That’s when we called the Kia dealership to see if there was like any tracking we could find out."
When Foote returned to her car a few minutes later, it was gone.
‘Gone in 30 seconds’
“My car was probably taken in 30 seconds," Foote said. "There was no glass that was broken. My alarm didn't signal. They did not need a key, and the KIA dealer said that it was about 60 KIA’s per day that were being stolen. I had a 2019 Kia Forte."
According to Rome, the automakers are developing immobilizers for older model Hyundais and Kias and they should be available at dealers by Oct. 1. In the meantime, owners of these vehicles should take extra precautions.
If possible, park in a locked garage. If there is no garage, cars should always be parked in a well-lit area.
One extra precaution is applying a steering wheel lock when the car is parked. That will prevent the car from being driven away until the lock is removed and might discourage thieves.