If you own a Kia or Hyundai, we have a warning for you.
Police are seeing a significant uptick in those types of cars being stolen, and a TikTok trend may be to blame.
Social media users post videos under the hashtag “Kia Boyz” and teach people how to start Kia or Hyundai cars without keys.
Last month, Nick Angelo told FOX13 his girlfriend’s Hyundai was stolen from their Mud Island apartment complex in broad daylight.
“She got home to go to work that day and noticed that the parking spot where her car was there was glass on the ground, and her car was no longer there,” he said. “She called the police right away. They came and said this was a number of cars that have been stolen in the past few weeks, and almost every day, they are looking at 30 cars a day being stolen.”
Angelo said police found his girlfriend’s car totaled the next day in north Memphis.
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He said officers told them Kia’s and Hyundai’s are becoming targets because they are easy to steal.
Thieves will bust a window and remove part of the steering column’s cover, exposing the ignition. They then break the ignition cylinder off and start the car with a USB cable.
“I understand it might seem fun to you at the time, but it’s not fun for us to go through the consequences of it,” Angelo said.
On Aug. 29, Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies spotted a stolen Kia at a McDonald’s in Hickory Hill.
Police say 19-year-old Saleem Wilkins and two other people were in the car.
When officers tried pulling them over, the men reportedly drove through the lot. In the process, a report said the suspect scratched one deputy’s car and collided with another.
Wilkins was taken into custody.
While no suspects have been arrested in Angelo’s case, he said he wants other people to be aware.
“Maybe just for everybody’s sake, take your personal items out of your car if you own a Hyundai or Kia,” Angelo said.
The TikTok trend teaches people how to steal late model Hyundai and Kia’s, but a local mechanic said anyone who has a push-start car is also a target.
“Thieves have gotten smart. They have these little computer boxes they can plug into your car, and they instantly have a key,” Eric Goad, a service manager at Raleigh Tire & Auto in Arlington, said. “We actually had a dodge car pull in here that still had the box in it that thieves used to steal the car with.”
Goad said a push-start ignition system might make it much easier for thieves to steal your car than having a traditional key.
“What these thieves are doing, they’re actually plugging up the OBD2 reader. After they hook it up, it goes directly to the computer, and they can program a blank key from this car in 30 seconds,” he said.
Additionally, if the key fob is nearby, Goad said thieves might be able to grab the signal from that to open the door and drive away.
He said these types of thefts might be hard to stop, but there are preventive steps you can take.
“Park as close as you can under light. That way, someone at least hears it, and somebody at least sees what is going on,” Goad said.
Some other tips to avoid push-start key theft include putting your keys in a blocking pouch which will prevent remote access to your key fob, and turning off keyless entry on your fob.
Removing all valuable items from your car can also help to deter thieves.