TikTok ‘challenge’ videos put some Kia and Hyundai owners at risk for theft, New York City officials warn

TikTok 'challenge' videos put some Kia and Hyundai owners at risk for theft, New York City officials warn

Thursday, March 30, 2023 3:27PM

ABC7 New York 24/7 Eyewitness News Stream

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — New York City is stepping up warnings to Kia and Hyundai owners about a social media trend that can put some vehicles at risk for theft.

It’s known as the TikTok Auto Challenge, and it exploits a design vulnerability in some Kia and Hyundai cars which allows the ignition to be bypassed using a USB cable.

What’s worse, the trick to stealing the cars is hiding in plain sight on social media, specifically on TikTok.

Videos show viewers that all they need is a screwdriver, a USB cord and the easily accessible hot-wiring know-how to steal cars.

The trend has become so widespread, the NYPD has been posting warnings on social media.

Adding to the increase in theft risk is the fact that both Korean car brands, which are part of the same conglomerate, are increasingly popular in America.

They accounted for about 10% of U.S. auto sales last year.

Both Kia and Hyundai recently claimed to have fixed the problem, and they are introducing free software upgrades for vulnerable cars, which include about 4.5 million Kias and 3.8 million Hyundais.

Meanwhile, the companies are shipping steering wheel locks to police departments across the country, free of charge to car owners who drive at-risk later models.

The manufacturers claim to be constantly monitoring TikTok and YouTube for new how-to videos to be removed.

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