Like many residents around the DMV on Wednesday, Lexy spent her morning brushing fresh snow off the windshield of her Mazda 3.
It’s a used car the Laurel, Maryland resident recently bought from a family member — after her Kia Optima was stolen twice, as part of the social media “Kia Challenge.”
“I was like, there’s no way that this could be happening a second time,” Lexy said.
Back in August, News4 interviewed Lexy after her car was stolen just steps from her home in Laurel. She got it back, but the steering column had been ripped out.
After costly repairs, Lexy and her Kia made it back on the road. But in December, it was taken again — this time, from the Laurel Town Centre parking lot.
Her Kia Optima hasn’t been seen since.
“My stomach just dropped. I was in complete shock,” Lexy said.
The Kia Challenge started on TikTok, showing how certain older-model Kias and Hyundais can be stolen with a USB cord.
The thefts have skyrocketed across the country. Now, some insurance companies are raising rates and refusing to accept new customers with certain Kias and Hyundais, because of the increased cost of replacements and repairs.
Lexy says her insurance rates went up.
“I called them, and I was like, ‘is it something I did?’ And they were like, ‘no, it’s just, you know, the area. We’re just reassessing what you’re policy is going to be because of the crime,” Lexy said. “I was like… it’s awful.”
Lexy planned to get a steering wheel lock, but the police department was out of free ones, and the online prices had skyrocketed.
“Obviously I was kicking myself, because I should have gotten it right away and just bit the bullet,” Lexy said.
According to Laurel police chief Russ Hamill, most of the thieves are kids — and many are repeat offenders.
Many owners have been calling on the car companies to do something. So far, it hasn’t happened.
“We’re just citizens trying to get to work, trying to take care of our families,” Lexy said. “The fact that they have not offered any kind of compensation, any way to fix the issue — it really is baffling.”
According to Progressive Insurance, in some markets, those cars are 20 times more likely to be stolen than any other car. State Farm is calling it a serious problem that’s affecting customers in the entire auto insurance industry.
Police are urging owners to get an anti-theft device, and consider an after-market car alarm.
Based in New York, Stephen Freeman is a Senior Editor at Trending Insurance News. Previously he has worked for Forbes and The Huffington Post. Steven is a graduate of Risk Management at the University of New York.