Kia and Hyundai sued after viral TikTok caused a spike in thefts

Things I learned on TikTok: The hole in the pasta spoon is one serving of spaghetti. What to do when a debt collector is knocking. How to connect a Kia using a USB cord and screwdriver.

Oh yeah, you read that correctly.

A popular TikTok challenge is to announce a technology to steal certain makes and models of Kia and Hyundai cars Cause vehicle theft to rise Across the country, according to reports From several police departments.

Now, Kia and its parent company Hyundai are being sued by angry victims.

On Wednesday, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the automakers over a flaw the Challenge exposed. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Orange County, California, alleges Kias built between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundais built from 2015 to 2021 that were equipped with conventional prime movers, rather than keyless fobs, that were “intentionally built” Without Engine Mounts. This important, inexpensive and seemingly very common device is intended to prevent cars from contacting hot wires and theft. The complaint says virtually every automaker has used it for the past 20 years, yet Kia and Hyundai haven’t used it—hence the ease with which kids pass the car.

Kia and Hyundai declined to comment on the pending lawsuit but said immobilizers became standard on their cars after November 1, 2021.

Since the “Kia Challenge” began appearing on TikTok and then YouTube in July, police in several cities have reported some serious car theft statistics. In St. Petersburg, Florida, more than a third of all car thefts can be linked to the challenge, according to a CNBC report. In Chicago, that number came to 77%, which is a 767% increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts, it said. community consultant From the Chicago Police Department who linked the thefts to the TikTok challenge.

The lawsuit alleges that Kia and Hyundai had previously researched the effectiveness of building with engine mounts and decided to reject it,”blatantly assessing profits over the safety and security of their customers.” Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that the automakers made no effort to warn customers of the danger of theft by young people seeking street cred on social media.

“With the huge rise in publicity for the defect, the thefts are unlikely to stop without the active involvement of Kia or Hyundai,” the lawsuit says. “An entire criminal ecosystem has sprung up; exacerbated by TikToks-fueled thefts, videos and memes promoting criminal behaviour.”

A little dramatic, but, seriously, how embarrassing it is to know that your car has been stolen, not by someone who might have needed to sell it for parts and feed their family, but by their local Kia Boys branch – the cute name for groups of guys making use of their TikTok knowledge for wild rides ?

While the fact that many of these thefts were videotaped and posted online should make them easier to find, the plaintiffs argue that repair costs are often significant. TikTokers first need to break into cars, which means breaking a window and popping the steering column, not to mention collateral damage that can exceed $10,000 depending on the suit. The lawsuit argues that the challenge even led to supply chain issues – parts needed to repair any recalled vehicle were delayed due to massive demand.

Hyundai said it will start selling and installing safety kits that should protect against the entry method thieves use to break into vehicles at Hyundai dealerships across the country. The automaker is also working with police departments to provide steering wheel locks.

Regardless of the amusing absurdity of this situation, these car thefts have real consequences for people’s lives. Stephanie Macquarie, one of the three plaintiffs named, said she woke up on the morning of September 11 to find her 2015 Kia Optima missing from her driveway in Davenport, Florida, rendering her unable to go to work, resulting in the loss of her job. Housekeeping Supervisor. The car was later found on the side of the highway, unable to start, presumably a complete loss.

Lawyers for MLG at Law, the automatic flaws firm that filed the complaint, did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for information about how many other victims have joined the class action lawsuit. Plaintiffs claim monetary damages and equitable damages on their behalf and “All persons and other entities across the country who have purchased or leased 2011-21 or 2015-21 Kia vehicles and Hyundai vehicles equipped with conventional key ignition systems.”

For its part, TikTok has a policy that asks users not to post, upload, broadcast or share content that encourages vandalism or property damage. So, if you are also looking for a video tutorial on how to wire one of these infamous vehicles right now, you won’t be out of luck. Instead of instructional videos, you’ll likely find evidence of consequences, including videos of damage done, public service announcements from concerned citizens and tips on how not to have your car stolen with Kia Boys roaming.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.


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