Car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai are the targets of a class action lawsuit in Orange County, over defects in cars were exposed in a viral TikTok challenge, leading to a spike in car thefts.
The TikTok video showed viewers how to hotwire a Kia using a USB cord and a screwdriver. When that video went viral, reports of stolen Kias and Hyundais soared.
The challenge spread far beyond Los Angeles, but Orange County is where the lawsuit was filed against the two car companies.
The LAPD issued an alert to those who own a 2010 to 2021 Kia or Hyundai. A social media challenge may be targeting your vehicle. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Aug. 25, 2022.
The LAPD issued a statement warning about the viral “TikTok Auto Theft Trend.”
“In 2021, Kia and Hyundai vehicles made up almost 13% of all vehicle thefts in the City of Los Angeles,” the statement read in part. “In 2022, Kia and Hyundai vehicles account for almost 20% of all vehicle thefts, a 7% increase for these vehicles.”
One woman said police didn’t even seem surprised when she told them her car was stolen.
“They told me that there was a TikTok trend, where these kids called the Kia Boys were taking these cars, breaking into them in a matter of seconds, taking apart the ignition using a USB to open the car and to turn it on, and taking them for joyrides,” said Silvia Castellanos, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Kias built between 2011 and 2021, and Hyundais built from 2015 to 2021 — all equipped with traditional keys rather than keyless fobs — were deliberately built without “engine immobilizers.” The lawsuit states that the anti-theft parts are widely used by most other auto manufacturers, and the fact that they were missing made the cars easier to steal.
The two car companies declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.