A recent TikTok challenge informing viewers on how to steal Kia vehicles with a USB cable has caused a rise in car thefts across several cities in the United States.
Many of the car thefts are believed to have been a part of a TikTok trend called the “Kia challenge,” where users are challenged to steal the vehicles by smashing the windows and using a USB cable or phone charger to start the car.
Many of the stolen vehicles have been older Kia and Hyundai models. The group of mostly teenagers who call themselves “Kia Boyz” on the social video platform are targeting the vehicles due to the ease of starting the cars. The challenge videos on TikTok show mostly younger users taking the vehicles for joyrides and crashing or abandoning them.
Police departments in several cities across the United States have been reporting an increasing number of Kia and Hyundai car thefts that they believe are connected to the TikTok challenge.
The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) announced on Wednesday that 52 vehicles, half of which were Kias and the other half Hyundais, were stolen between July 1 and July 25.
Dwight Mitchell of LMPD told WLKY that half of the stolen vehicles had been recovered and recommended that individuals keep their cars secure by purchasing steering wheel locks and parking vehicles in open, well-lit areas.
The Arlington Police Department received 12 reports of stolen Kia vehicles, with most occurring towards the end of July. Several underaged inviduals have been arrested and charged.
“You’ve heard of all these challenges, things that are very dangerous,” Arlington police spokesperson Jesse Minton told WFAA News. “When a certain model car is hardly ever stolen and now all of a sudden we see five or 10 in a month, that’s gonna hit our auto theft crew’s radar.”
Police in St. Petersburg, Florida, reported 56 stolen vehicles in the last two weeks, with 23 of them being 2021 or older Kia and Hyundai models.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hyundai and Kia vehicles made up about 45 percent of the city’s car theft reports in June, and similar spikes have been reported in Memphis, Tennessee, and Cincinnati, Ohio, among other cities.