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TikTok Social Media Challenge Prompts Hyundai and Kia’s Anti-Theft Measures

Kia and Hyundai vehicles have become a major target for car theft in Los Angeles, with a 7 percent increase in thefts since 2021

Hyundai and Kia have launched a service campaign to prevent the theft of millions of their vehicles that have become targets of a TikTok social media challenge. 

The companies have recently developed theft deterrent software for these vehicles, which lack an immobilizer, and will provide it free of charge to vehicle owners. The software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on. In addition, Hyundai will provide its customers with a window sticker alerting would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection.

The effort is in response to at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities resulting from this social media challenge. NHTSA urges owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai or Kia for information on free updates.

Kia and Hyundai vehicles have become a major target for car theft in Los Angeles, with a 7 percent increase in thefts since 2021. Social media platform TikTok has fueled these thefts, with many videos showing how to take advantage of security flaws in these cars.

To reduce the risk of theft, the LAPD said owners should take steps such as installing a steering wheel locking device, battery disconnect switch, kill switch, aftermarket antitheft system or GPS tracking device. Additionally, it is recommended that drivers park their cars in well-lit areas or secured locations and make sure all windows and doors are locked before leaving the vehicle.

Hyundai and Kia are also working with law enforcement agencies by providing more than 26,000 steering wheel locks since November 2022 to 77 law enforcement agencies in 12 states. Interested vehicle owners can contact local law enforcement to see if a wheel lock is available.

This phased approach for rolling out free software updates will begin later this month for both companies. According to the LAPD, there is not a specific model thives are targeting; rather, the primary cause for an increase in vehicle thefts is that Kia and Hyundai vehicles produced between 2010 and 2021 are not equipped with an ignition immobilizer which can be compromised using a USB cable.

If anyone has additional information regarding vehicle thefts, they can contact their local LAPD Geographic Area Auto Detective at 1-877-527-3247 or visit www.lacrimestoppersorg and www.lapdonline.org respectively for anonymous tips and more information.

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