KINSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A dangerous viral TikTok trend may have made its way to northeast Pennsylvania as the trend targets certain types of vehicles.
A social media stunt that’s sparked thefts and break-ins to cars across the country has local residents concerned and noticing some similar traits.
A woman, who we are not identifying at her request, told 28/22 News her son, who’s just about to start his junior year of college, now has even more on his plate. His car, a Hyundai, was recently broken into and she suspects they are a victim of a TikTok challenge.
“So now we’re on a time limit to find a new car within a week of him going back to school. So we went from having a fully functional working car to now we have no vehicle,” the woman said.
Attempts like this have been popping up in our area after a viral TikTok trend.
The trend, which is usually carried out by young teens, targets Kia and Hyundai vehicles due to a missing security feature on some models. In this instance, the vandals caused over $2,000 in damage.
The trend involves breaking into cars and trying to bypass the ignition. A missing security feature makes some Kias and Hyundais an easy target.
While the crooks didn’t get away with taking her son’s vehicle, they still caused a lot of damage. The 2012 used Hyundai Elantra is looking at over $2,000 in repairs.
28/22 News reached out to Kia and Hyundai about the TikTok trend.
Shortly after the trend began popping up, Kia and Hyundai issued statements offering free software downloads to enforce and enhance security.
Hyundai is committed to the comprehensive actions we are undertaking to assist customers and communities affected by the persistent theft of certain vehicles not equipped with push-button ignitions and engine immobilizers. Our dealers across the country are maximizing the number of anti-theft software installations that can be performed on a daily basis, contributing to steadily increasing completion rates, which we report to NHTSA weekly. Hyundai recently piloted a mobile service center in Washington, D.C. to further scale and speed installation of the software upgrade (Link). We remain committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products, all of which are fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements. Engine immobilizers are now standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced as of November 2021. For more information, please visit www.hyundaiantitheft.com.Hyundai
Kia continues to take action to help our customers by making it more difficult for criminals to use methods of theft recently popularized on social media to steal certain vehicle models. In addition to announcing an agreement earlier this year that will allow customers who have been impacted by vehicle thefts to receive additional benefits, Kia has notified all eligible owners and lessees of these vehicle models – over 3 million total – that they are able to receive the free security software upgrade that we have developed. The upgrade is designed to restrict the operation of the vehicle’s ignition system should a potential criminal attempt to steal a locked vehicle without the key, and dealers who have installed the upgrade report successful installation takes under an hour to complete. As of August 14th, more than 600,000 vehicles have been upgraded. We have established a dedicated website where eligible owners can learn more about how to receive the free upgrade: https://ksupport.kiausa.com/ConsumerAffairs/SWLD.
We also continue to provide steering wheel locks to owners of impacted vehicles that are not eligible for the software upgrade at no cost to them. Customers can obtain free, Kia-provided locks through their local law enforcement, or they can request a steering wheel lock from Kia directly through the dedicated website. To date, we have distributed more than 188,000 locks and we will continue to provide them as they are needed.
Kia has been and continues to be willing to work cooperatively with law enforcement agencies around the country to combat car theft and the role social media has played in encouraging it, and we remain committed to supporting our customers and to vehicle security.Kia
You can also purchase a steering wheel lock to keep your vehicle safe.
“Their attempt was foiled because when they went to smash the part to get in, it wasn’t done correctly. Being an older vehicle, it’s just not worth putting the money into it,” the woman explained.
She adds Tiktok trends continue to get more and more dangerous, especially for young people.
“There have been numerous challenges that were either dangerous to themselves or other people and are illegal. And it just keeps going and I wonder where it’s gonna end,” the woman continued.
The Kingston Municipal Police Department responded to the comment saying they have seen an uptick in this kind of activity in recent months.
Police say if you see suspicious activity near cars call 911 immediately. They also advise those with cars impacted to park in well-lit areas or in a garage.