"The increases are believed to be connected to the sharing of videos on social media that demonstrate how to start these vehicles without a key."
(CHICAGO) Police have alerted the public to a TikTok trend targeting owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Officials report the theft of these vehicles is up by 767%.
In a statement from the Cook County Sheriff's office, authorities explain the targeted cars require a physical key and do not operate with a starter button. "The increases are believed to be connected to the sharing of videos on social media that demonstrate how to start these vehicles without a key. Thieves appear to be targeting unoccupied vehicles that require a physical key, not a starter button."
Authorities in Will County have also issued a warning via Facebook, "The video, commonly referred to as the 'Kia Challenge', dares people to steal Kia's or Hyundai's taking advantage of a default in the security issues related to these vehicles."
According to Autoblog, this disturbing TikTok trend began in Milwaukee in 2021. Tutorials for starting the cars without a key began showing up on social media and spread nationwide.
Why are Kia and Hyundai models being targeted?
According to Autoblog, these cars do not come with an immobilizer installed. An immobilizer prevents the engine from starting if the correct key is not recognized.
“This is an extremely concerning trend, and the public needs to know so they can be vigilant in protecting themselves,” Sheriff Dart said.
How to protect yourself
Authorities suggest vehicle owners should protect themselves by parking in a garage or well-lit, high-traffic areas.
The Park Forest Police Department offered further advice for Kia and Hyundai owners in a Facebook post, "Invest in a steering wheel lock (highly visible), such as shown in the photo in this post. (Most of us remember "The Club", but there are multiple manufacturers, and the costs can be as low as $25.00). Another option-much more cumbersome but highly effective- is a wheel immobilizer such as the boot, also shown in this post.
"Invest in an aftermarket alarm system that will immobilize the ignition of your car without the remote being activated. (More expensive but generally reliable)."
You can find the complete statement from the Cook County Sheriff's office here.
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