Over the past few months, a concerning trend has emerged on TikTok: videos of people stealing Kia and Hyundai cars using only a screwdriver and a USB cord. The process takes just a few minutes, and the carjackers can zoom off with the vehicle without needing the keys. Unfortunately, this trend has had devastating consequences. In some cases, car owners have come out to find their cars missing, leaving them stranded and without transportation. Even more alarmingly, these car thefts have resulted in grievous accidents, injuries, and eight fatalities.
After posts on Tik Tok detailing how to hot-wire the cars, police reports show a nationwide surge in Kia and Hyundai thefts. In one tragic case, four Buffalo, NY State teenagers, ages 14-17, were killed in an accident in a stolen car using the viral screwdriver and USB method. Richmond Vona, LLC was selected by a large national law firm to act as local counsel in this case.
According to police documents, the car was reported stolen Sunday night. The car crashed, killing four of the six teenagers, on Monday at 6:30 am. The fifth passenger is in the ICU, and the driver, age 16, was treated and released from a hospital last week. He was ticketed for possession of the stolen property and unauthorized motor vehicle use.
Buffalo Police Commissioner, Joseph Gramaglia, said the teenagers likely participated in the Kia-theft Tik Tok trend. According to Kait Munro, the Erie County District Attorney’s spokesperson, they expect to file additional criminal charges as the investigation continues.
This Tik Tok trend shed light on previously overlooked car security issues. In response, Hyundai and Kia are rolling out free software updates to millions of vehicles that lack necessary anti-theft devices. Approximately 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are eligible for the update.
The new software will double the time the alarm system sounds, from 30 to 60 seconds. Additionally, it requires the key to be physically present and in the ignition switch to start the engine. Hyundai will also distribute car window stickers signaling the new anti-theft protection to prevent future car theft.
We believe it is vital to raise awareness of this trend and encourage people to protect their vehicles and their safety. While TikTok can be a source of entertainment, it is essential to remember that actions have consequences.
At Richmond Vona, LLC, our law firm is committed to helping car accident victims and their families seek justice and compensation for their losses. Contact us when you or your loved one needs help.