FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A social media trend has led to more auto thefts across the nation, including Fort Wayne where police say they’ve had reported thefts of cars related to the trend.
The trend, called the Kia Challenge, after videos surfaced on TikTok and YouTube that feature a group called the “Kia boys.”
In one of the videos, they demonstrate how to easily steal any Kia vehicle from 2011 or newer, or any Hyundai from 2015 to now.
The process includes punching the steering column and prying the ignition open. Once exposed, a USB cable perfectly fits into part of the ignition mechanism, which then allows for it to be turned and start the engine.
Sergeant Jeremy Webb from the Fort Wayne Police Department said they’ve seen cars that fall into those years and models reported stolen in Fort Wayne recently.
Sergeant Webb said auto thefts are up 100% across the nation and thefts are up 1,000% for Kias and Hyundais that fall within those years.
“We’d like to get the message out there that if you do have a Kia or you do have Hyundai and it’s a later model, take extra precautions because we have seen an uptick in those model vehicles being stolen locally and nationally. So, just be aware,” Sergeant Webb said.
He added there are numerous ways to protect your car from theft. If you’re unable to park in a garage, Webb said the best thing you can do is put a wheel lock on your steering wheel.
“They’re not going to be able to steal your vehicle if they can’t steer it,” Sergeant Webb said.
Other ways to protect your car include parking in well-lit areas, near security cameras if you have them, lock your doors, avoid leaving valuable items in the car, have a good alarm system, and even go as far as disconnecting your batter if you’d like.
This latest trend shows that social media can certainly cause issues, even though it can be very beneficial at times — including helping police locate suspects.
“Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, it was word of mouth, but now criminals can educate themselves on the best way to be a better criminal and then post it, you know, and everybody is getting the information on how to steal your Kia or your Hyundai,” Sergeant Webb said.
He hopes the makers of the vehicles is able to soon correct the issue in future models.