Authorities across the U.S. are cracking down after a TikTok trend began "challenging young teens to steal certain cars off the street using a USB cord," CNBC reports.
According to CNBC, the "challenge" involves the theft of certain Kia and Hyundai cars — which are operated with a traditional key, rather than a key fob that is used in newer models. Police said once a car is stolen, the suspect will typically post a video using the hashtag "Kia Boys."
The viral trend started in 2021 and started to gain traction over the past few months. In St. Petersburg, Florida, for example, "more than a third of all car thefts there since mid-July are linked to the TikTok challenge," reports CNBC. Authorities say most incidents involve teenagers, some of whom aren't old enough to legally drive.
George Glassman, the president of Glassman Automotive Group told Fox 2 News it's "becoming a game even though there is nothing funny about it."
This has not only become a problem for the vehicle owners but also for the manufacturers, as lawsuits are being filed across the country against Kia and Hyundai for making the vehicle "easy to steal," Fox 2 notes.
The affected car models lack an "immobilizer system," which prevents the engine from starting without the proper key, though both Kia and Hyundai say that all models manufactured after 2022 are equipped with the systems.