Kia Boys Need Only 25 Seconds to Steal a Car

Owners urged to install the software update 18 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Kia
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Chances are you've heard of the Kia Boys, especially if you own a Hyundai or a Kia model in the United States.
The lack of an immobilizer turned a hack shared on TikTok into a nationwide phenomenon, with teenagers as young as 10 breaking into cars and driving away before they crash into poles or other vehicles on the road.

The Kia Boys do all these for Internet views, as they film the entire adventure and post it online. They're addicted to getting more clicks, so they attempt all kinds of stunts in the stolen vehicles, including running away from the cops.

State Police in Reading claim the Kia Boys have become masterminds of taking advantage of the vulnerability in Kia and Hyundai vehicles. They need only 25 seconds to drive away in an unpatched vehicle. The process includes breaking a car's side window, jumping in, ripping off the steering wheel column, and hotwiring the car to start the engine. All these in 25 seconds, and it's all possible after watching videos posted online.

Police confirm that most people stealing Kias and Hyundais are juveniles. It's mainly the TikTok audience, as this is where the Kia Challenge went viral with detailed instructions on how to break into cars and start the engines in seconds.

While Hyundai and Kia have already released anti-theft patches, the numbers are still worrying. Police in multiple regions claim they see more thefts than in previous years, and the trend doesn't seem to slow down in 2024.

The somewhat positive tidbit is that police manage to recover more cars without major damage, primarily because the Kia Boys only want to go somewhere, so they jump behind the wheel of the first Kia or Hyundai they find on the street. As ridiculous as it sounds, unpatched Kias and Hyundais have become part of an ad-hoc ride-sharing service whose cost is only covered by the owner, with "customers" typically not caring about damage or other problems.

Police insist on standard safety measures like installing a steering wheel lock to prevent the thief from driving away in a car. However, it doesn't mean the thief would also walk away. Most Kia Boys break the cars without looking through the window, so they still cause damage worth hundreds or thousands of dollars before they realize they can't steal the vehicle.

Owners should also install trackers, like Apple AirTags, to monitor the vehicle's location if it gets stolen. Police use the live location data to find the suspects and attempt to stop them before it's too late, albeit it all depends on how fast you report the theft and whether a patrol car is nearby. However, an AirTag significantly increases the chances of recovering the vehicle, as the Kia Boys typically abandon the vehicle when they spot the cops on their tail.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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