HomeCar InsuranceViral TikTok challenge spurs rise in thefts of Kia, Hyundai cars in...

Viral TikTok challenge spurs rise in thefts of Kia, Hyundai cars in South Florida

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A recent social media challenge involving Kia and Hyundai models highlighted the vulnerability of certain vehicles to theft. The nationwide challenge burdened law enforcement agencies and left families stranded including in South Florida.

The challenge, fueled by platforms like TikTok, encouraged individuals armed with nothing more than a USB cord or screwdriver to break into certain Kia and Hyundai models. According to John Pirrera, a manager at an auto shop, accessing these vehicles was easy, taking mere minutes.

“You can break into this car faster than you can break into a 1970′s Chevy.” Pirrera said.

Police agencies, including the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, found themselves inundated with reports of thefts or attempted thefts linked to the challenge.

“It’s frustrating because it is a Tik-Tok challenge.” Detective Sgt. Patrick O’Brian over the auto thefts division said.

The root of the problem is in a factory flaw in the ignition system of Kia and Hyundai models manufactured between 2010 and 2022, affecting as many as 9 million vehicles. Models produced between 2015 and 2019, lacking basic auto theft prevention technology, became prime targets for thieves seeking a quick getaway.

Surveillance footage provided by FLPD captured brazen thefts and attempts. The crooks typically break a back window and crawl in, so locking car doors does little to help.

The situation escalated to the point where Kia and Hyundai faced a class-action lawsuit, resulting in a $200 million settlement. Some auto insurance companies even refused coverage for certain models.

In response, Kia and Hyundai rolled out free software updates and distributed wheel locks and steering wheel clubs to help with vehicle security. Kia is collaborating with FLPD to distribute wheel clubs at future community events.

While these aftermarket options have helped reduce thefts in Fort Lauderdale, law enforcement continues to work a significant number of attempted thefts.

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