Police warn of social media challenge that includes thefts of specific vehicles

EAST WINDSOR, CT (WFSB) - A couple of vehicle brands are being targeted by thieves as part of a social media challenge, according to East Windsor police.

They said Kia and Hyundai vehicles are being stolen across the country because of the challenge.

"The videos show how to steal these vehicles in seconds using a USB cable," police said. "These vehicle model years are ones without a push-button start and are vulnerable to the technique being used by thieves."

East Windsor police said it appeared that this may have happened Sunday when a vehicle was stolen while the owner was shopping at Walmart.

They offered some tips on how to protect these types of vehicles:

  • Use a theft prevention tool, such as a steering wheel lock
  • Park in a garage, if possible, or well-lighted areas
  • Keep doors locked at all times
  • Remove valuables from cars
  • Activate alarm systems

CBS News obtained statements from both Kia and Hyundai in which the automakers said they were aware of the nationwide thefts.

Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim level vehicles. All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change. All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).

Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles.

While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media. Criminals are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021.

In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners.

Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech/Compustar security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles.

Beginning October 1, 2022, this security kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country.

Hyundai will provide additional details soon, and customers who have questions can always contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151.

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