Tik Tok challenge leading to increase in thefts of Hyundai, Kia vehicles

A recent uptick in car thefts stemming from a Tik Tok challenge is sparking concern across the country.
Updated: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A recent uptick in car thefts stemming from a Tik Tok challenge is sparking concern across the country. Just over the border in Connecticut, police believe this type of crime may have happened Monday in East Windsor.

A recent Tik Tok trend that shows users how to easily steal certain types of cars is circulating on social media, so we decided to reach out to a local dealership to find out tips on how to prevent this from happening to your car. Gary Rome, owner of Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke, told Western Mass News this challenge targets 2015 to 2021 Hyundais and Kias that do not have push to start buttons.

“Anything ‘22 and newer already has the immobilizer kit on there,” Rome explained.

The Tik Tok trend gives users a how-to guide on starting one of these cars with nothing but a screwdriver and a USB cable.

Rome told us the immobilizer kit helps prevent thieves from being able to start the cars without a key, but only the newer models have this feature already installed. However, he assured Western Mass News that Kia and Hyundai are creating a new immobilizer kit for older models that should be ready by October 1.

In the meantime, Rome suggested that drivers concerned about their vehicles should purchase a steering wheel lock. He said installing the lock prevents anyone who breaks into your car from driving away, even if they’re able to get it started.

“You can go on Amazon and they’re about $12 and you can install it,” Rome added.

He also said that their parts department will be stocking up on steering wheel locks as well. Anyone who needs help with installation can stop by the dealership. In addition, Rome would like to remind car owners of some basic ways to keep your car safe from all types of theft.

“Park it in a well-lit area or park it in your garage, make sure the alarm is locked in the car, make sure you have the keys and make sure you don’t have any valuables that are showing,” Rome added.