Police Keep Giving Away AirTags to Fight the Kia Boys Madness

Police giving away AirTags to Hyundai and Kia owners 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Apple
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The TikTok challenge that put a target on the back of every Hyundai and Kia in the United States will soon be two years old, but it doesn't mean teenagers have stopped stealing cars with the ridiculously easy hack.
A recent campaign by the NYPD Crime Prevention Division is proof that the Kia Boys madness is still out of control.

Officers took to North Baychester last weekend to give away AirTags to Kia and Hyundai owners, telling them to install the tracker inside their vehicles. The AirTag will help law enforcement track the cars if they get stolen, providing the officers on duty with critical information on their location.

If they are lucky, the Hyundai and Kia owners can recover their cars in one piece, though more often than not, the Kia Boys end up wrecking the vehicles before running away on foot. If they escape without injuries, that is, as some of the Kia Boys, sometimes aged even 12, have no idea how to drive a car and end up in hospital after trying the hack they've seen on TikTok.

The NYPD officers offered free AirTags to Kia vehicles produced between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundais built between 2016 and 2021. The only requirements were a turn-key start in the car and an iPhone in the pocket.

Law enforcement also gave away steering wheel locks, hoping they would prevent the theft altogether.

Truth be told, the steering wheel locks are more efficient than the AirTag in the fight against the Kia Boys. The hack involves ripping off the steering wheel column and using a USB cable to start the engine via an exposed port. Due to the lack of immobilizers, the vulnerable vehicles start in seconds, with Kia Boys driving away and trying various stunts, often leading to destroying the cars.

The steering wheel locks would prevent the Boys from stealing the cars altogether, though it doesn't mean car owners can avoid the damage completely. Some teenagers break into cars without even looking through the window if the owner installed a steering wheel lock, breaking the window and causing damage worth hundreds of dollars.

Meanwhile, Hyundai and Kia advise car owners to patch their vehicles. The companies released a software update nearly a year ago that addresses the vulnerability, preventing the hack from turning on the engine with a USB cable. They also provide car owners with window stickers to tell potential thieves that the vulnerability has been patched, though few seem to care about them and rush to break the window of any Kia or Hyundai they find on the street.

Installing the update takes approximately 30 minutes and can be done at any Hyundai and Kia dealerships in the United States.
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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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