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Gone in 30 seconds: TikTok challenge leading to thefts of Kia, Hyundai cars hits Maryland

Kia Dealership, Owings Mills, MD., March 28, 2023.
Paul Newson/ The Baltimore Banner
Kia Dealership, Owings Mills, MD., March 28, 2023.

Aziza Frank left for class last month only to find her 2011 black Hyundai Elantra was not where she parked it.

The 25-year-old University of Maryland, Baltimore student thought maybe her car had been towed. But when she dialed 911, Baltimore Police told her it had been stolen. And the theft is likely part of a national trend, fueled by a TikTok challenge, targeting certain models of Kia and Hyundai cars.

“Where I parked, there’s a lot of Ring cameras on a lot of the houses. So whoever is taking them, they obviously don’t really care,” Frank said. “I ended up talking to a neighbor to look at their Ring camera. And they told me that they saw two men get in my car with a mask on and driving off within 30 seconds.”

On TikTok, videos with the tag “Kia Boys,” as the thieves are known, have 42.3 million views. Some show individuals how to steal certain Kia or Hyundai models using a screwdriver and a USB charging cord. In Maryland, thefts of Kias and Hyundais have increased nearly 50% over the past year, according to Maryland State Police. Even dealerships, like the Koons Kia in Owings Mills, where 19 vehicles were recently stolen, are getting hit.

Christopher McDonold, executive director of the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, said some models made between 2010 and 2021 have a push-to-start system but do not have an anti-theft “immobilizer” to prevent a car from being started without the correct key.

“And they’ve figured out how to steal the vehicles by getting into the ignition and starting the cars using USB cables — like the ones you use to charge your phone — that’s left in the car,” McDonold said.

So far in 2023, 508 Hyundais and Kias have been stolen in Baltimore, according to police, representing nearly half the auto thefts citywide. In Baltimore County, 193 Kias or Hyundais were stolen in 2022. During the first three months of 2023, there have been 188 such incidents, according to police data.

Howard County Police have reported 43 Kia and Hyundai thefts this year, while Anne Arundel County Police have reported 69 in January and February.

The story continues at the Baltimore Banner: Gone in 30 seconds: TikTok challenge leading to thefts of Kia, Hyundai cars hits Maryland

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