TikTok challenge leads to car theft and class-action lawsuit against Kia, Hyundai

TikTok challenge leads to car theft and class-action lawsuit against Kia, Hyundai

Amid a rapid spread of social media posts giving people tips on how to easily steal a Kia or Hyundai car, two Iowans have filed a class-action lawsuit against the automakers.

Ann Brady of Polk County and Leah Price of Decatur County are suing Kia America, Inc., Hyundai Motor America and Hyundai Kia America Technical Center. They claim the companies have caused a breakdown in their vehicles that makes them “easy to steal, unsafe and worth less than they should be”.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, alleges that the companies “acknowledge there is a theft and safety issue with these vehicles, but refuse to repair, reimburse consumers, or otherwise take action” to resolve it. address the problem.

The two Iowans are suing on behalf of themselves and a nationwide class of thousands who have bought a Kia or Hyundai in recent years.

Brady claims she purchased a 2019 Hyundai Tuscan from Stew Hanson Hyundai in Clive at an unspecified time, and it was stolen in July 2022. Price says she bought a new Kia Sorento from Kia Des Moines in 2017 and then bought a 2012 Sorento and a 2016 Sorento the following year from the same dealer.

USB cables used to start cars

According to the lawsuit, one of the reasons older Kia and Hyundai cars are so easily stolen is that they fail to meet a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that requires vehicles to have a starting system that, once the ignition key is removed, prevents the activation of the engine and locks the steering column.

In the “defective” vehicles, the lawsuit states, “neither steering nor forward self-mobility is prevented. If it were, the vehicles would not be stolen to an alarming extent… All a thief needs to do is detonate the ignition column. stripping, exposing a piece that jumps off and then inserting a USB stick, knife or other similar tool, to start the vehicle without a key or code.”

Prosecutors argue that given the number of people who charge their cellphones in their cars with an in-vehicle USB cable, the only tools needed to steal a Kia or Hyundai are “usually readily available to any thief.”

According to the lawsuit, Kia attempted to add an immobilizer to its Amanti line of vehicles in 2009, telling the federal government that this device was comparable to other devices that have been shown to reduce theft by 58 to 80%. In 2007, Hyundai started similar efforts to add an immobilizer to its Azera line.

“Defendants are aware of the issues and even allege that they have attempted to ‘repair’ their 2022 vehicles to eliminate the safety flaws,” the lawsuit claims, “but refuse to do anything about the pre-2022 faulty vehicles.”

The Iowa plaintiffs are demanding a refund of all costs associated with their purchase of the vehicles, including the cost of anti-theft equipment and increased insurance premiums as a result of the alleged defects.

The court has yet to rule on the plaintiffs’ request for class-action status, and the automakers have not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are represented by Sioux City attorney Jay M. Smith.

‘Kia Challenge’ on TikTok encourages theft

In recent weeks, several videos have been uploaded to TikTok, YouTube and other social media platforms instructing people on the best methods of using a USB cable to steal a KIA made from 2011 to 2021, or a Hyundai made from 2015 to 2021.

The videos led to the “Kia Challenge” in which a group of individuals calling themselves the “Kia Boyz” challenge others to steal a vehicle using the USB method while recording the theft on video.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, two teens recently recorded trying to steal a 2013 Hyundai from the parking lot of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, according to Nebraska Public Media. Omaha police say 230 Hyundais or Kias have been stolen so far this year – compared to 131 in the first seven months of 2021, the Omaha World Herald reported. Other cities across the country have reported a similar increase in thefts.

In a written statement, Kia America said it is “aware of the increase in vehicle theft” and says all 2022 models will have immobilizers. “All Kia vehicles sold in the US meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” the company says.

Hyundai Motor America has said it is “concerned” about a reported increase in thefts, but that its vehicles “meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards”. The company says immobilizers are “standard equipment on all new Hyundai vehicles.”