The Latest TikTok Craze: How to Steal a Car, the KIA Challenge

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A new craze has gripped American cities this year as a result of videos found on social media, particularly TikTok. Grand Theft Auto is now a reality game for thousands of teenagers across the cities in Americaland and TikTok is getting the blame for allowing “how to” videos to be streamed online. The craze in the new tradition of social media is called the KIA Challenge and to win, all you have to do is steal a KIA (or Hyundai). Oh, and risk a criminal record.

In cities like Memphis, the number of cars stolen have doubled in the past year with at least half of those caught being teenagers who have watched ‘instruction’ videos online and who often are just taking the cars for a joyride and then promptly abandoning them afterwards. Vehicles from Hyundai and Kia seem to be most at risk, a weakness that has prompted law makers in several places to file law suits against the Korean companies.

In 2022, some 11,000 cars were stolen in Memphis. To put that into perspective, fewer than 1000 were stolen in the whole of Malaysia in the same period. Of those stolen in Memphis, about one-third were Kias and Hyundais, two brands that do not even make the top ten list in Malaysia. Police in the city claims that all you need to jack a Korean car is a screwdriver, a USB cord and a self-help video. According to the local Police Chief, the ‘kids’ are finding it just too easy to do.

During the pandemic, there was a steady increase in the number of cars being boosted due largely to the cars being left unattended on city streets for long periods of time. But as the pandemic slowly fades into the distant memory, the surge has continued unabated due to a large number of online videos showing youth of today how to get around a car’s security features. For some Hyundai and Kia cars built during a certain period, this has proven ridiculously easy.

Both Kia and Hyundai are popular marques in the US of A, accounting for about 10% of all cars sold there. There are some 4.5 million Kias and 3.8 million Hyundais on the roads. Both of the Korean companies are concerned about the trend and how this may damage their long-term vehicle sales and have issued statements claiming to have released software fixes to make their cars less vulnerable.

At the same time, the Korean carmakers have shipped old-school steering locks to many Police jurisdictions to be provided for free to owners of the most at risk cars. They are also specifically monitoring YouTube and TikTok for new videos that show how to steal a car so that the content can be removed. Already both TikTok and YouTube have removed a number of the KIA Challenge videos, but in true double speak, they have said that they allow a few to remain as they are deemed to be “Educational, Artistic, Scientific or Documentary”. Jeeze Louise!

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