NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – With nearly 1,300 attempted car thefts reported in Norfolk this year, some local law enforcement place part of the blame on a social media challenge encouraging people to steal cars and post about it on social media.
Thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been well-reported at 10 On Your Side. From Oct. 1 to Oct. 10, there were 51 Hyundais and Kias reported stolen to Norfolk police.
“It makes me feel violated,” said Kevin Garrison, who told 10 On Your Side his Hyundai Tucson was stolen right out of his Norfolk driveway. A neighbor caught a video of his car being driven up the street later that night.
“I said that’s my car, and okay, they’re trying to steal another car with my car,” he said.
“[The police] said they are very easy to steal, and they can steal them with a USB port, and they can get your car started and take them in no time,” Garrison said.
Dollie Dixon also had her Hyundai stolen from her Norfolk driveway. It was recovered shortly after with a lot of damage.
“When I went to look at the car, the USB cord is still laying on the seat. The body of the car wasn’t messed up, but they ripped the steering wheel column out, and they ripped my rearview mirror out,” she said.
Certain models of Kias and Hyundais have a security vulnerability which makes them relatively easy to steal. It’s become fodder for a social media challenge. On TikTok, there are more than 3 million videos with the hashtag “Kia Boyz.” Many of them are videos of people attempting to, or in some cases, successfully stealing a Kia or a Hyundai.
“What’s funny about it is that my grandchild, who is 11 years old, told me about the Kia Boys. He said, ‘Look, Grandpa, see them, they’re on TikTok,” he said.
Norfolk Police told 10 On Your Side that in August, there were 74 reported thefts of Kias and Hyundais, making up 38% of all car reported thefts.
In September, there were 65 reported thefts, making up 43% of all reported thefts. The 51 Hyundais and Kias stolen in the first ten days of October make up 69% of all reported car thefts in Norfolk.
Representatives for both Kia and Hyundai tell 10 On Your Side they are working with local law enforcement to make steering wheel locks available for car owners. Hyundai also recently released a $170 security kit that car owners can purchase to help prevent thefts.
“Hyundai is also developing a software update to further secure these targeted vehicles. We anticipate that this software update will become available for certain vehicles in the first half of 2023, with updates following thereafter,” the company said in a statement.
Kia and Hyundai are now both targets of class action lawsuits related to the case. One was filed in Orange County earlier this year.