Owners of some models of cars from the Korean brands Kia and Hyundai are suing the automakers due to a wave of thefts. The sharp increase in cases is also to blame for a dangerous challenge that is spreading mainly among young people on Tiktok and other social networks, writes the American television portal CNBC.
“In our jurisdiction alone, thefts of certain models have increased by more than 800% in the last month,” CNBC quotes Tom Dart, the sheriff of Cook County, which includes the US city of Chicago.
And similar reports are coming from other parts of the US. For example, authorities in Los Angeles claim to have recorded an 85% increase in thefts of Hyundai and Kia cars compared to last year. And in St. Petersburg, Florida police confirmed that since mid-July, more than a third of all car thefts there were related to a challenge posted on the social network TikTok.
The viral challenge encourages the theft of some cars. And the young thieves then publish videos of their robbery raids and subsequent wild rides through cities and wrecks. Videos under the hashtags “Kia Boys” already have over 33 million views.
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The crazy challenge specifically applies to certain 2010 to 2021 Kia and Hyundai models without an immobilizer that still start with a mechanical key. A group of young people from Milwaukee figured out that these cars can only be started using a USB cable similar to the one used to charge phones. Last year, the young people published their “discovery” with instructions, thus starting the “Kia Challenge” and the “Kia Boys” cult among young people.
Police are now on alert across the United States. CNBC investigators confirm that the number of stolen cars across the country continues to rise at a rate never seen before.
“The thieves are mainly young teenagers – some not even old enough to legally drive. They often use stolen cars for road trips or to commit other crimes and then dump them on the side of the road,” said Sheriff Tom Dart.
For example, an 11-year-old boy was among the most active thieves in the Chicago area.
Breaking in and starting the car takes 20 to 30 seconds. “I looked out the window and realized my car was gone,” said 2019 Kia Sorento owner Karen Perkins.
A few days later, she saw her car whiz through an intersection when she stopped at a red light. “I saw a teenage boy sitting in the front. Then around the corner I saw five children jumping into my car,” she describes.
A few hours later, she found the car broken into and parked on the side of the road.
The social network TikTok has already said in a statement that it does not tolerate “such behavior” and that the entire challenge violates the company’s policies. As soon as they discover more videos on the platform, they will remove them.
But the aforementioned car companies are also having problems now. Lawsuits from owners of stolen cars are piling up. And lawyers say manufacturers bear some of the blame simply because they made cars that are too easy to steal.
“Manufacturers should pay for it,” lawyer Ken McClain, whose firm has filed class action lawsuits in 12 US states and is preparing to file in seven more, told CNBC.
According to TechCrunch, a nationwide class-action lawsuit against both automakers was even filed last week. It claims that some Kia cars built between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundai cars built between 2015 and 2021 were “deliberately” built without an immobilizer to save money.
Both automakers declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said immobilizers will become standard on all their vehicles after November 1, 2021.
They added that they are cooperating with the authorities and are trying to distribute old but good steering wheel locks to owners of endangered models in cooperation with the police. A Hyundai spokesman added that the company will start selling a “security” kit at all American dealers in October, which should prevent theft, or at least make it significantly more difficult.
Forklift or road roller. Watch a report from July 2021 about unusual thefts: