Videos Show Teens How to Steal Certain Kias And Hyundais With Only a USB Cable, Police Warn Amid Rising Thefts

Captain Phil Simmert of the Milwaukee Police Department says car theft cases are through the roof thanks to the social media challenge. "They’re having fun with their friends until they're attending a funeral."

Authorities are sounding the alarm about a new social media challenge that involves teens stealing cars using only a USB cable and posting videos of the joyrides online.

They call themselves the "Kia Boyz," and police say with the help of online how-to videos, they’re taking advantage of a possible design flaw in certain Kia and Hyundai models.

Vehicles with manual transmissions — not push-button starters — are most at risk, according to police. Thieves have figured out a way to use a USB cable as a key to start the cars and simply take off.

That's what police say led to a stunning chase on a Minnesota freeway. After smashing into a concrete barrier, four teenage suspects ran into traffic before getting arrested. 

Captain Phil Simmert of the Milwaukee Police Department says car theft cases are through the roof thanks to the challenge.

“They're terrorizing the community. They’re having fun with their friends until they're attending a funeral,” Simmert said.

Hannah Reitz says she only learned of the security hack after her Hyundai was stolen.

“It’s really unbelievable. I thought my car had perfect security, alarm system and everything, and then I learned that it was not secure at all,” Reitz said.

So what can you do to deter would-be thieves? Police recommend parking in a locked garage and investing in a wheel lock to keep criminals at bay.

Kia and Hyundai say their vehicles “meet or exceed federal motor vehicle safety standards,” adding their new vehicles are equipped with “engine immobilizers” to prevent these thefts.

Full statements from Kia and Hyundai: 

"Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim levels. All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change. All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance center directly at 1-800-333-4542." — Kia

"Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles. While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media. Criminals are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021. 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. Beginning October 1, 2022, this security kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. Hyundai will provide additional details soon, and customers who have questions can always contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151." — Hyundai

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