Thieves are taking cables like you’d use to charge a phone, breaking into the steering column and jamming the USB into parts of the car to boot it.
AUSTIN, Texas – The “Kia Challenge” is a relatively new – and illegal – trend floating around on social media. It involves thieves targeting Kia and Hyundai vehicles and stealing them within minutes.
In Tech One Auto, getting these cars is now a weekly event for the shop and they don’t see it slowing down.
“We see them at least once, twice a week. So it’s becoming a big deal,” said Andrew West, service consultant for Tech One Auto.
Andrew West with Tech One Auto said it stems from a social media trend called the “Kia Challenge”. Thieves are breaking into the steering column and starting some Kia and Hyundai models in minutes.
“Without an immobilizer, anything resembling a key can be used to start the vehicle,” West said.
Cars like the Kias are very popular and this popularity also makes them a target.
When it comes to this illegal trend circulating on social media, thieves are taking cables like you would use to charge a phone, breaking into the steering column and jamming the USB into parts of the car to start it, allowing them to take off without much time to notice.
That’s exactly what South Austin resident Nick Strole went through.
Nick parked his 2021 Hyundai Tucson at his apartment complex after work, just like any other night; however, when he went to use it the next morning, he was nowhere to be found.
“I was like, maybe it’s somewhere else. So I walk around the whole complex for about 25 minutes and I’m like, ‘My car is nowhere to be found.’ So I didn’t know what to do. So I called the police immediately,” Strole said.
After a week of police work finding Nick’s car, she got the call.
“I’m like, ‘You know, hey, we just found your car. It didn’t have any plates. It’s totally damaged. It looks like it had a hit-and-run collision with another vehicle,'” Strollo said. “Everything was there, but it was completely damaged, destroyed, it smelled terrible. It’s like someone was just living in it. Yeah, it was just a wild scene.”
Last summer is when the trend started gaining a lot of traction, and West said his shop still sees these issues every single day.
So what can be done to deter these criminals?
“The Club is going to be the most common, it’s going to be old-school technology, but it’s the one thing that’s really going to prevent over, you know, parking in a well-lit area,” West said in reference to a steering wheel lock.
To read more about Kia and Hyundai’s responses to the problem, click here.
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