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Hyundai, Kia offer solutions against TikTok theft lessons

Picture of Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin

Kia Forte

TikTok is a massively popular social media site. It ranks seventh in popularity with over a billion users globally. Sadly that popularity is being used to make the theft of certain Kias and Hyundais increasingly commonplace.

Kia Rio

As reported by Fox News (proving we truly scour the web to find automotive news), thefts of Kias and Hyundais have jumped 300% and police are blaming TikTok. Turns out, there are videos (we won’t share where) that show how to start Kias and Hyundais “without keys by using the tip of a phone charger or USB cable.” That’s prompted juveniles to steal the vehicles.

According to a letter posted online (on Twitter, not TikTok) three out of every four vehicles stolen in St. Louis in the first half of August 2022 were Kias and Hyundais. Unfortunately some of the cars were involved in shootings.

Vulnerable vehicles are those without smart keys that require inserting a key into the ignition. It seems, according to Fox News, 2011-2021 Kias and 2015-2021 Hyundais lack an immobilizer system. (Since Nov. 1, 2021, all new Hyundais have the immobilizer as standard equipment, as well as 2022 Kia models.)

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Motor America spokesperson Ira Gabriel told Fox News help is on the way in the form of a Compustar “security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles.” It becomes available for purchase and installation starting Oct. 1.

In the meantime, your best bet appears to be old-fashioned steering wheel locks, which Hyundai and Kia are working with local police to supply to affected owners. Of course they require inserting a key into a lock (but at least not to an ignition). No, we don’t know if there are TikTok videos showing how to use USB cable tips to defeat steering wheel locks but some of the videos do show broken steering wheel locks.

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