The Los Angeles Police Department has issued a community alert over a TikTok challenge that encourages the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
Kia and Hyundai comprised almost 13% of all vehicle thefts in the city last year, police said. This year, they account for almost 20%.
The social media challenge is a factor in the increase in thefts, police said.
Kia and Hyundai vehicles made between 2010 and 2021 that don’t have push-start ignitions are the primary targets.
One TikTok video shows a young man wearing in a hoodie, a mask and gloves demonstrate how to steal a vehicle with a USB cable and a screwdriver, police explained.
“‘Kia boys’ show how to steal car,” text in the video reads.
Recently, a woman had her 2017 Hyundai stolen in broad daylight in Highland Park. She shared surveillance video of the brazen theft with KTLA because she wants to raise awareness of the issue.
Authorities recommend that owners of those vehicles use a steering wheel locking device or an anti theft system to prevent any crimes.
In a statement provided to KTLA, Kia America said the company has “provided steering wheel lock devices at no cost to law enforcement in affected areas to deter vandalism and theft” for those vehicles produced before Nov. 1, 2021, meaning they do not have an immobilizer.
“That effort will continue in close coordination with local police departments for distribution to concerned owners of Kia vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer,” the company added.
Hyundai Motor America submitted a similar statement to KTLA.
“In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners. Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech / Compustar security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles,” the company said.
The LAPD provided these additional tips to minimize thefts:
- Install a battery disconnect switch
- Install a kill switch, which may require a professional installation
- Lock all windows and doors
- Park in a well-lit area
- Park in a secured location like a garage or a parking structure
- Install a GPS tracking device
Anyone with information about vehicle thefts can call the LAPD’s 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-527-3247 or LARegional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.