LONE TREE, Colo. (KDVR) — A local Hyundai owner is warning others of the same make to be aware of a TikTok challenge encouraging viewers to steal certain types of cars, and she worries the videos are helping thieves.
“It shocks me a 2020-year car is that easy to steal. I also didn’t realize my car and model was easy to steal right now, I don’t keep up with those trends,” Alice Costa, who owns a 2020 black Hyundai Tucson, said.
Costa said on Friday she and her son were shopping at the Spirit Halloween in Lone Tree for about 45 minutes. She said when they walked out her car was gone.
“I started pushing my panic button to see if maybe I parked it somewhere else,” Costa said.
She said once she realized the car was stolen, she called police. Lone Tree police confirmed Monday the car was reported stolen. Then came Saturday, Costa received a phone call from Westminster police.
“They let me know my car was involved in a crime at Walmart,” Costa said.
FOX31 spoke with Westminster police on Monday. They told us the car was recognized by its stolen plates and was used as a getaway car during a shoplifting gone wrong at a Walmart. Originally, it was called a robbery but WPD said the suspects were attempting to shoplift then got into a fight with “lost prevention” at the Walmart.
WPD said they couldn’t confirm if the suspects at the Walmart are the same people who originally stole the car in Lone Tree, so they wouldn’t release suspect photos at this time.
Costa said on Sunday, she received an early morning phone call from Denver police that her car was found and now in their impound lot. Costa said at this time she doesn’t know the status of her car, but isn’t sure if she wants it back.
“I’m unhappy with this car, I don’t want it. I don’t want anything to do with Hyundai. I don’t want anything to do with Kia cars,” Costa said.
After her car was stolen, Costa said she and her fiancé started researching and quickly realized her car was part of a TikTok trend.
“We didn’t know. We know now, but it’s too late,” Costa said.
The trend is teaching viewers how to break-in and start certain Hyundai and Kia cars in a matter of minutes.
Both Hyundai and Kia sent FOX31 statements that they were aware of the trend:
“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 Nov. 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 Oct. 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.”Ira Gabriel, senior group manager, Hyundai, corporate and marketing PR
“Kia America remains concerned about the increase in auto thefts of a subset of Kia vehicles. It is unfortunate that criminals are using social media to target vehicles without engine immobilizers in a coordinated effort. All of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel key and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition system. The majority of Kia vehicles in the U.S. are equipped with a key fob and ‘push-button-to-start’ system, making them more difficult to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change. Kia America has provided steering wheel lock devices at no cost to law enforcement in affected areas to deter vandalism and theft. That effort will continue in close coordination with local police departments for distribution to concerned owners of Kia vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer. Kia customers with questions regarding their specific vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance center directly at 1-800-333-4542(4Kia).”James Bell, Head of Corporate Communications, Kia America
Below is information from Mike Greenwell with the Metropolitan Theft Task Force about the most popular cars stolen between April to the end of June of this year. Hyundai and Kia car models hold 5 out of 10 spots:
As part of a national trend, the city counselor’s office in St. Louis sent letters to Kia and Hyundai chastizing the car manufacturers for failing to install an engine immobilizer in many of their vehicles. You can read the full letter on their website.