Viral social media challenge encourages car theft

ARLINGTON, TX (CBSDFW.COM) If you drive a Kia or Hyundai, a new police warning. There’s a new viral challenge on social media that encourages teens and young adults to steal cars.

According to Arlington police, when it comes to auto theft, Kias and Hyundais are rarely targeted. That is, until recently.

In the past two weeks alone, 12 vehicles have been stolen or recovered.

“Digging into the investigation, we found there were obviously videos of other minors or young adults taking these cars,” Jesse Minton said.

On social media, the “Kia Challenge” challenges people to break in and then use a USB cable to start the cars. The videos show teenagers and young adults taking car rides and in some cases abandoning or even crashing the cars.

“It’s super frustrating,” said Hyundai driver Jesse Barnes. “Now I have to be careful where I park and be careful and that will change things. We will probably take my wife’s car”

But Jesse Barnes says as teachers they are sadly not surprised.

“I hate to say this out loud, but I mean they were trashing the bathrooms last year…we felt it,” Kimberly Benford said.

Locally, Arlington police say they have made several arrests and point out that auto theft in Texas is a crime many young people might not realize.

To best protect your car, they recommend:

  • Park in a well-lit area
  • Locking your doors
  • Get an anti-theft device like a steering wheel lock

“I will definitely keep my car in an area where there is a camera on it,” Kia driver David Offor said. “Make sure my vehicle is in good hands and in a safe place.”

“There should probably be a recall,” Barnes said. “Probably something should be changed.”

We have contacted Kia and Hyundai to see if any changes are being considered and are awaiting a response.

UPDATE: On Sunday, July 31, 2022, Kia issued the following statement:

Kia America is aware of increased vehicle thefts of a subset of trim levels in your area. All 2022 models and versions have an immobilizer applied either at the start of the year or as a current change. All Kia vehicles for sale in the United States meet or exceed federal motor vehicle safety standards. Kia customers who have questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (Kia).


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