Date Published: 2023/04/03

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Protect yourself against the TikTok car stealing challenge

A close-up on the TikTok app icon, with 99 notifications showing, on a smart phone screen.

An alarming new trend, known as the “Kia Challenge”, has been gaining popularity on TikTok since late 2021. The TikTok car stealing challenge has resulted in a spike in vehicle thefts across the U.S., with some cities like St. Petersburg, Florida, seeing an increase of as much as 85% in the last year.

What is the TikTok car stealing challenge? 

First spotted in Milwaukee in 2021, the trend has continued to spread thanks to viral videos on TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media networks. The dangerous challenge involves mostly young teens (many of whom are too young to legally drive) using a USB cable to hot wire and steal a vehicle. The basic hack can be done in less than a minute and the same cable can be used repeatedly to start the car. 

The stolen vehicles are then used for a joyride or to commit other crimes before being abandoned. As part of the TikTok car stealing challenge, thieves will post a video of themselves stealing and driving the car using the hashtag #KiaBoyz. The hashtag has upwards of 33 million views on TikTok.

Which vehicles are at risk? 

Not all vehicles are subject to the hot wire hack. In fact, the challenge targets specific makes and models of Kia vehicles built between 2011-2021 and Hyundai vehicles built between 2015-2021. These models use a mechanical key and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition system rather than a key fob and push-button to start the car. They are also manufactured without an anti-theft device known as an immobilizer. 

Immobilizers are an important reason why the TikTok car stealing challenge has not been as prolific across Canada as it has been across the U.S. In Canada, electronic anti-theft immobilizers became a requirement for all new vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2007.

Tips for protecting yourself against vehicle theft

While no vehicle can ever be entirely theft-proof, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of vehicle theft.

1. Park in a secure garage.

Vehicle theft, especially when performed as part of a social media trend, is often a crime of opportunity. Park your vehicle in a locked, secure garage if possible. If you do not have a garage available to you, park in a well-lit area.

2. Install anti-theft devices.

Additional anti-theft measures like a steering wheel lock, car alarm, motion-sensor lights or video surveillance system can deter would-be thieves from targeting your vehicle. If your vehicle is not equipped with an electronic immobilizer, speak with a trusted mechanic about installing one. 

3. Consider a GPS tracking unit. 

Having a GPS tracking unit on your vehicle makes it easier for authorities to track it down and apprehend the suspects responsible. Even a simple tracker, like an Apple AirTag, can be enough.

4. Keep identifying documents secure 

It is common practice to keep our insurance and registration documents in our vehicles. In the event the vehicle is stolen, thieves would also have this important personal information. Consider keeping these documents in your wallet or at home to avoid potential identify theft and fraud.

5. Review your insurance coverage.

It is important to know what you are covered for in the event of a total loss. Review your insurance policy regularly to ensure you have the coverage you need to get back to where you started. Keep in mind that valuables left in your car are typically not covered by auto insurance in the event of a claim. Those items not covered can include electronics, sporting equipment, and school supplies, for example.

If you are shopping for car insurance, contact an Orbit insurance broker to get a free quote. Or, if you are a current Orbit policyholder, call 877-976-7248 to review your policy and inquire about your coverage options.