#KiaBoyz TikTok Challenge Causes Surge in Car Thefts
The #KiaBoyz TikTok challenge was started by a group of young car thieves in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2021. They created a series of “how-to” videos that showed millions of people how to steal a Kia or Hyundai using nothing but a USB phone charger cord, which is often found inside the victim’s car.
Not surprisingly, the #KiaBoyz videos went viral. By the time TikTok removed the videos, it was far too late. A new generation of joyriders and car thieves had learned how to steal a Kia or Hyundai in seconds. In some cities, car thefts surged over 1,000% and neighborhoods were terrorized by teenage boys driving stolen cars at high speeds.
Millions of Kia & Hyundais Lack Engine Immobilizers
The problem is that from 2010 through 2021, millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicles were sold without a critical piece of anti-theft technology called an engine immobilizer.
Thieves simply look inside the vehicle, and if it uses a mechanical key (not a “push-to-start” button or a key fob), they know it lacks an engine immobilizer and will be incredibly easy to steal.
Starting in November 2021, federal auto-regulators ordered manufacturers to install engine immobilizers, so newer vehicles are less likely to be stolen. Unfortunately, there are still millions of vulnerable vehicles that are incredibly tempting to a would-be thief.
What is an Engine Immobilizer?
An engine immobilizer is a basic anti-theft device that makes it very hard to steal a car without using an authorized key. The engine immobilizer transmits a code to the engine when an authorized key is in the ignition, or a key fob is inside the vehicle. The computer in the car will not allow the engine to start unless it receives this code.
Kia and Hyundai Engine Immobilizer Anti-Theft Lawsuit
In September 2022, a class action lawsuit was filed in Minnesota on behalf of consumers who purchased or leased Kia and Hyundai cars.
The lawsuit claims these “vehicles suffer from a significant defect: they do not have an engine immobilizer. … Thieves only need to gain access to a vehicle, and once inside, strip the ignition column and insert a screwdriver, knife, or even a USB cord to start the vehicle.”
Despite the shocking rise in thefts, Kia and Hyundai have not issued a recall or offered to install engine immobilizers in the affected vehicles.
The lead plaintiff is LaShaun J., a man from Minnesota who paid around $22,000 for a 2019 Kia Sorrento. Less than a year later, his Kia was stolen by thieves who used a screwdriver to start the car.
He got his car back, but couldn’t drive it for months until it was repaired. He also had to pay a $750 insurance deductible. He is seeking compensation from Kia because he believes he over-paid for the car, suffered a loss of resale value, and other damages.
The Kia & Hyundai Engine Immobilizer Class Action Lawsuit was filed on September 2, 2022 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota — Case Number 0:22-cv-02164-ECT-DJF.