LAPEL, Ind. — A woman living in Lapel, Indiana recently fell victim to a trend on TikTok called the “Kia challenge”.
The challenge comes from a video in which two males are sitting in a Kia vehicle, demonstrating how to start the car with just a USB cable. (Warning: this TikTok video contains profanity).
On July 16, Alissa Smart discovered she had fallen victim to this challenge when her niece woke her up in the middle of the night to deliver the news.
“I was so angry when my niece woke me up to tell me,” said Smart. “I was scared, anxious and confused on how someone could see two car seats and a diaper bag and still commit such a monstrous act.”
Smart doesn’t know at this time who did this to her car, however, she suspects it might be teenagers.
“I have no idea. I’m leaning toward a teenager based on the fact they stole bicycles along the way and then Mountain Dew from my parents’ garage and ditched it all up the road to come back and try to steal my Kia Soul,” said Smart.
“There were power tools, keys in my mom’s truck ignition and my dad’s truck was unlocked with $160 and thousands of dollars of tools.”
The damage to Smart’s car is estimated to cost quite a bit. A window replacement alone will cost her $400.
“I can’t afford to fix my vehicle, which leaves me and my two children without our only mode of transportation,” said Smart. “Not to mention they stole my wallet that included my ID and my children’s medical cards with their full names and date of births. I feel violated and scared.”
Smart filed a report with Lapel Police on this incident.
“Lapel is a small community and I’ve lived here for 20 years, over two-thirds of my life. Nothing like this has ever happened where a window is broken to steal from a car. The police stated that to me.”
“The keys were in one of my parents’ vehicles on the property. If they wanted to steal a car, it would’ve been much easier to take that truck. Instead they busted out my window and tried to hotwire my Kia Soul before my niece walked outside and they took off running on foot.”
Smart told FOX59 that she does not think that TikTok should allow this type of content to be posted to the platform due to the possibility of creating further break-ins.
“This trend absolutely makes me feel disgusted. It’s really beyond me that people think it’s okay to post criminal acts, let alone participate in them after seeing them online.”
This is a known issue that police across the country have been warning Kia and Hyundai owners about.
The problem, according to authorities, concerns a design flaw which allows a driver to start the cars after gaining access to the steering column. Thieves are exploiting this flaw, and some are posting their illegal antics online, Sgt. Eric Brunner of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in Michigan told Nexstar’s WOOD.
We reached out to Kia for a comment and this is what they said:
Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts as a subset of trim level vehicles in your area. As of the current 2022 Model Year, all Kia vehicles have an engine immobilizer fitted as standard. All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (Kia).