These Numbers Reveal the Horrible Effects of the Kia Boys TikTok Hack

Hyundai says the update works, encourages everybody to patch 10 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Kia
Kia Anti-Theft Logic StickerHyundai Anti-Theft Logic Sticker"Hacked" Hyundai"Hacked" HyundaiThe Damaged Kia SoulThe Damaged Kia SoulThe Video that Started the "Kia Challenge"The Video that Started the "Kia Challenge"The Damaged Kia Soul
The Hyundai and Kia theft plague that emerged in 2021 due to a viral TikTok challenge continues two years later despite attempts to slow it down. But contrary to everybody's expectations, not only is the trend not losing momentum, but is actually gaining more traction in the United States.
The number of Hyundai and Kia models stolen in Columbus, Ohio, has increased at a rapid pace, now accounting for more than half of all stolen vehicles.

Data provided by the local police reveals that 51% of the vehicles stolen in the first nine months of 2023 are either Hyundais or Kias. Last year, cars produced by the South Korean brands accounted for 41% of the vehicles stolen in Columbus.

2023 is the year when Hyundai announced an anti-theft software update. The company started patching vehicles shortly after the early 2023 announcement, with Hyundai and Kia most recently announcing software clinics where customers can bring in their cars to have the update installed.

While Hyundai insists on the fact that the software update works, teenagers following the infamous TikTok hack keep breaking into cars without caring if they're patched or not.

The police data shows that 66% of all unsuccessful attempts to steal a car targeted a Hyundai or a Kia in the first nine months of the year. The number increased to a whopping 85% in September, as thieves keep breaking into cars without checking if they have a push to start or a steering wheel lock.

Teenagers who want to become Internet celebrities by joining the Kia Boy trend typically break into the car by smashing one of the side windows. They use a USB cable to connect to the car, ripping off the steering wheel column to expose a port that allows them to start the car. Vehicles without immobilizers are vulnerable, and according to Hyundai, 2011-2021 Kia models and 2015-2021 Hyundai cars come with the problem.

The vulnerability was discovered in 2021 at a time when criminals rarely targeted Hyundai and Kia cars. The statistics show that the two brands only account for 11% and 9% of the vehicle thefts in the region.

The police claim teenagers who break into Hyundais and Kias to steal them using the viral hack don't care about what happens next. They sometimes submerge the stolen vehicles, set them on fire, or wreck the cars after violently hitting trees or buildings. Police officers occasionally suffer injuries when trying to stop the thieves – it happened in three separate cases in one week in September, the data shows.

Police tell Hyundai and Kia owners to install steering wheel locks. While the thief can still produce damage by breaking the window, they wouldn’t drive away in the vehicle, as most criminals run away after noticing the lock.

Hyundai and Kia also reimburse customers for steering wheel locks on vehicles not eligible for the anti-theft software update.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
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.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories