Social media trend encouraging people to steal Kia, Hyundai vehicles

Kia models from 2011 to 2021 and Hyundai models from 2015 to 2021 reportedly lack an anti-theft system.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:51 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Leslie Sison loves driving her Kia. She loves how it feels and how it rides. What she doesn’t love is that her car may be easy to steal. “Scary to think how easy it is that people are actually putting it out there on social media, and saying how to steal it is even worse,” said Sison.

The Queen Creek mom is one of many Arizona car owners on high alert after hearing that Kia and Hyundai vehicles are being stolen in record numbers across the country.

A number of TikTok videos have sparked a new social media trend that’s teaching people how easy it is to steal these cars and SUVs by simply using a USB cord. Kia models from 2011 to 2021 and Hyundai models from 2015 to 2021 reportedly lack an anti-theft system that would prevent thieves from using USB cords, like a key, to start the engine.

Several law enforcement agencies across the Phoenix area have indicated they have not seen an uptick in vehicle thefts involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles. However, they think it’s just a matter of time. “We expect this to hit Arizona, probably in the next few weeks,” said Sgt. Jason McClimans, with the Chandler Police Department. “We want to make sure the public is educated so you are not a victim of this.”

Police suggest that owners of a Kia or Hyundai vehicle get an anti-theft kill switch device, steering wheel lock, or a GPS tracking device. “I will definitely take extra steps and precautions to safeguard my car,” said Sison.

A class action lawsuit has been filed in at least two states claiming Kia and Hyundai intentionally didn’t install the anti-theft devices to save money. There have been no announcements of any recalls addressing the problem.

Both Kia and Hyundai have issued statements to other media outlets.

“Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim levels in your area. All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change. All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” the Kia statement said.

“Hyundai Motor America is concerned with the rise in local auto thefts. The safety and well-being of our customers and the community is and will remain our top priority. These vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and engine immobilizers are standard equipment on all new Hyundai vehicles,” the Hyundai statement said.