Atlanta

APD searching for solutions to stop theft of Kia, Hyundai vehicles in social media challenge

ATLANTA — Atlanta police department is trying to help the victims of the crime wave. There’s a social media challenge that encourages people to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston found out how big of a problem this has become — Atlanta police told him 700 Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been stolen since this challenge started in the summer.

Thieves break into your car, smash the steering column, and use a simple computer part to start the car and take off.

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“We’ve seen the trend nationwide,” zone commander Reginald Moorman said.

Moorman is one of two precincts’ commanders talking about the Kia challenge, a Tik Tok theft challenge on social media.

Thieves are encouraged to steal all makes of Kia or Hyundai vehicles, using a simple computer device.

It’s gotten so bad, police say some victims had their car stolen, returned, and then stolen again, zone commander Anthony Jackson said.

“I don’t think they understand the effects that these crimes that they consider games are having on our community,” he said.

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Those who take the challenge can then call themselves “Kia Boys.”

APD’s auto theft commander, Lt. Justin Strom, says this has become a major problem.

“We’ve roughly had 600 to 700 Kia and Hyundais stolen in our city, which accounts for roughly 40% of our total numbers,” Strom said.

Rita Duggan had her car stolen. But APD is trying to help — Channel 2 was there when police gave victims steering wheel locks so thieves can’t steal their cars again.

APD has given out all the locks they had.

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“It gives me some piece of mind and also the fact that the community is thinking about us,” Duggan said.

Hyundai and Kia sent us these statements:

Hyundai said:

“We remain concerned about the increase in thefts of certain Hyundai vehicles that have been targeted in a coordinated social media campaign. Currently, Hyundai provides steering wheel locks, as available, to law enforcement agencies in impacted areas. In addition, Hyundai will provide two other options for owners of these earlier model year vehicles targeted by thieves.

  • Hyundai has released a glass break sensor security kit that targets the method of entry used by thieves to break into these vehicles. These kits are available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. The MSRP for the kit is $170, and the estimated cost for installation may vary by location.
  • Hyundai is also developing a software update to further secure these targeted vehicles. We anticipate that this software update will become available for certain vehicles in the first half of 2023, with updates for other vehicles following thereafter.

“Please note that all Hyundai vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Some earlier models, without a push-button ignition, do not have engine immobilizers. In November 2021, engine immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced.

“Customers who have questions can contact the Hyundai Customer Care Center at 800-633-5151.”

Kia released this statement:

“Kia America is concerned with the rise in vehicle thefts in your area.

“While no car can be made completely theft-proof, criminals are targeting vehicles equipped with a steel key and “turn-to-start” ignition system as opposed to those equipped with a key fob and “push-button-to-start” system. Kia America continues to work closely with local law enforcement in affected areas to provide steering wheel lock devices at no cost to concerned owners of steel key operated Kia vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer.

“All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change, and all Kia vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

“In addition, Kia is developing and testing software updates to further secure these targeted vehicles and will share more information as it becomes available.

“Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (Kia).”

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