Kia, Hyundai become central targets of viral TikTok challenge linked to car thefts

25 January 2023

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The threat of vehicle thefts has become even more possible for thousands of drivers who own and/or operate KIA and Hyundai vehicles, according to CMPD.

During a Monday night presentation to City Council members, CMPD Chief David Robinson stressed that vehicle thefts increased by roughly 20% between 2021 and 2022, with a lot of the driving force being juveniles and a viral TikTok trend targeting KIAs and Hyundais.

Robinson said that eight of every ten vehicles stolen are these vehicles and that “if you are a KIA or Hyundai owner and you’re hearing me right now, get a club for the steering wheel or a car alarm.”

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Less than 24 hours after he made that announcement, CMPD was alerted to a stolen Hyundai out of the Metro Division.

Officers followed the vehicle through parts of Uptown where, at times, the car traveled erratically and ran multiple red lights.

It crashed into a truck near the Mecklenburg County Jail around 10:45 a.m.

Two juveniles were found and arrested near the scene.

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While it’s unknown how the vehicle was stolen, it, coupled with the latest vehicle theft numbers, have some Hyundai drivers concerned.

Cory Meigs, who lives near the Cotswold area, has owned a Hyundai Elantra for nearly six years; he had not heard of the threat to his vehicle until recently.

“It’s especially concerning since it’s so easy to come in, hot wire a car, and then leave,” Meigs said.

The TikTok trend, labeled the KIA and Hyundai challenge, encourages juveniles to break into these vehicles, remove the steering wheel, and hot wire the car using a USB.

The trend has worked on vehicles manufactured between 2010 and 2021, and the videos have been viewed more than 33 million times.

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Youth mentors, and former CMPD officers such as Walter Bower, stressed that young people need to think through the before and after of these videos.

“Just because you saw this on TikTok, you didn’t see the actual outcome that this individual was kicked out of school, that this individual did go to jail,” Bowers said.

KIA and Hyundai have acknowledged the risk and defect that makes their vehicles more accessible to criminals.

KIA has begun to officer steering wheel locks, while Hyundai has already started to sell safety kits to drivers.

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