DETROITT (FOX 2) – Kia owners are warned after a TikTok video goes viral showing people how to steal the rides. The LX trim model vehicles are mainly targeted in this new trend, and thieves use USB cables for that.
“I was parked here, I stopped here and my aunt knocked on the door and said, ‘Tonia, where’s your car?'” Latonia said. “(I said) outside, and she said, ‘It’s not here.'”
Make no mistake, Latonia just laughs so as not to cry. Her 2022 Kia Sportage was stolen from the driveway on the east side of Detroit around 4 a.m. Tuesday.
“I felt defeated,” she said.
She’s just one of a growing number of Kia owners whose cars have been stolen, thanks in part to the work of the so-called “Kia Boys”
The nickname is for a group of young men who gave a manual on how to steal the cars. And with a USB cable, someone can start and drive off with your car.
The low-tech hack reportedly works on Hyundai models as well. The key is that the targeted makes and models only use keys.
This method will not work on cars that have a push start or are equipped with an immobilizer – a device that prevents the engine from starting unless the correct key is recognized.
While the Kia Boyz are reportedly based in Milwaukee, the fruits of their low-grade labor are being harvested here in southeastern Michigan, as well as on the west side of the state.
“They left without a trace,” said another victim.
This man who wanted to hide his identity says his Kia was stolen from his home in Grand Rapids in July.
The police packed up the thieves, but they tried to get away and ended up with the car.
“I went to the dealer and I went to them and said what are you going to do about this situation? The dealer was like, there’s nothing we can really do,” the man said.
FOX 2 contacted the automaker for comment. It released the following statement:
“Kia America is aware of the increase in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim levels. Immobilizers are fitted to all 2022 models and trims, either at the beginning of the year or as an on-going change. All Kia vehicles sold in for sale in the United States, meet or exceed federal motor vehicle safety standards.”
All that means little to Latonia who had Kia in 2022. And even though she has a rental car, her insurance will stop paying within 28 days. It can take 35 days for them to settle her claim.
“I have a rental car and I appreciate that, but I need my car,” she said.
The Detroit Police Department advises Kia owners to park in well-lit areas if they cannot park in a garage — and they recommend a secondary alarm system.
FOX 2 spoke to some employees at a Kia dealership and they said that they currently have about a dozen recovered vehicles in their store that need repair after being stolen.