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TikTok challenge spurs rise in thefts of Kia, Hyundai cars

A dangerous challenge spreading on TikTok along with other social media marketing platforms has car owners and police departments on alert in the united states challenging young teens to steal certain cars off the road utilizing a USB cord.

The prospective? Certain makes and types of 2010-2021 Kia and Hyundai vehicles that work with a mechanical key, not just a key fob and push-button to start out the automobile.Investigators tell CNBC the trend started this past year and the amount of cars being stolen is continuing to surge in the united states.

In St. Petersburg, Florida, police reported greater than a third of most car thefts there since mid-July are from the TikTok challenge. LA officials say the viral trend has resulted in an 85% upsurge in car theft of Hyundais and Kias weighed against this past year.

The story may be the same in Chicago, in accordance with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

“Inside our jurisdiction alone, [thefts of certain models are] up over 800% within the last month,” he said. “We see no result in sight.”

The trend challenges teens to steal an automobile off the road by breaking in to the car, popping off the tyre column and hot wiring the automobile utilizing a USB cable, like the wire used to charge a phone.

“The viral nature of how it has removed on social media marketing it’s accelerated this like we’ve never seen,” Dart said. “[The perpetrators are] carrying it out in 20 to 30 seconds. It literally is really as old-fashioned obviously.”

Dart told CNBC the thieves are mainly young teens some, not old enough to legally drive. The stolen cars tend to be useful for joyrides, or used to commit other crimes and abandoned privately of the street, he said.

“We’d an 11-year-old who was simply among our most prolific stealers the idea they can drive is really a fantasy,” Dart said.

The thieves post videos online of stealing and driving the cars, utilizing the hashtag “Kia Boys” which includes a lot more than 33 million views on TikTok.The social media marketing company said in a statement it “will not condone this behavior which violates our policies and you will be removed if entirely on our platform.”

Illinois resident Karen Perkins said her 2019 Kia Sorrento was stolen from before her apartment on Aug. 6.

“I looked out the window and realized my car was gone,” Perkins said.

Days later, she was in accommodations car at a red light when she said her missing Kia drove right past her.

“I saw a teenage boy sitting in leading,” Perkins said. “I drove round the block five kids actually jumped into my car that’s when I began to panic like I’ll lose my car forever.”

Perkins tells CNBC she continued a hunt to locate her Kia. Hours later, she found it deserted privately of the street and called police.She said the abandoned Kia was left heavily damaged.

“They crashed leading of my car they damaged the bumper,” Perkins said. “They even wrote at the top of my ceiling it says ‘hot car.'”

Tom Gerszewski, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based filmmaker, tracks the viral crime spree on his YouTube channel in “Kia Boys Documentary,” which includes already topped 3.7 million views.

“This is exactly what they do for after-school entertainment,” Gerszewski told CNBC. “They don’t really really have a lot of a sympathy for individuals that they’re achieving this to.”

Ken McClain, a lawyer in Missouri, says a few of the blame for the stealing spree falls on the automakers Kia and Hyundai claiming the firms built cars which are too an easy task to steal.

McClain calls the problem a “defect.” His firm has filed class action lawsuits in 12 states up to now: California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, NY, Ohio and Texas. He’s also getting ready to file in as much as seven other states.

“We’re receiving a large number of calls each day,” McClain said. “The manufacturer[s] should be spending money on this.”

Kia and Hyundai weren’t in a position to comment on just how many vehicles are contained in the make and model years and would potentially be at an increased risk.

A Kia spokesperson said the business is concerned concerning the upsurge in thefts and contains provided steering free wheel lock devices to police in affected areas.

“It really is unfortunate that criminals are employing social media to focus on vehicles without engine immobilizers in a coordinated effort,” the spokesperson said.

“While no car could be made theft-proof, criminals would like vehicles solely built with a steel key and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition system. Nearly all Kia vehicles in the usa include an integral fob and “push-button-to-start” system, making them more challenging to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the start of the model year or as a running change.”

A Hyundai spokesperson said the business is pursuing an identical effort to distribute tyre locks and that the business will start selling a security kit the following month.

In accordance with Dart of the Cook County Sherriff’s Office, the old-school wheel lock anti-theft devices could go quite a distance to thwarting the thefts.

“It creates it extremely difficult to maneuver the automobile,” he said.

CNBC Specials Page Peter Ferrarse contributed to the report.

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