Deputies: Greenacres vehicle burglaries were inspired by TikTok challenge

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 8:15 PM EDT
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Five minors are in custody following a string of vehicle burglaries in Greenacres that deputies said was part of a TikTok challenge.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said from Aug. 3-6 the thieves focused on Kia and Hyundai vehicles with the intent to disassemble the ignition and steal the car.

During the early hours of Aug. 6, investigators said the minors successfully stole a gray 2016 Kia Soul from a residence in Greenacres.

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A few hours later, deputies were dispatched to a hit-and-run investigation within Pickwick Park where five occupants bailed out of the Kia Soul. Deputies apprehended three minors as they attempted to flee the scene. Detectives later identified two other minors that were involved and were later arrested.

Investigators said they believe the minors were participating in the so-called "Kia and Hyundai TikTok Challenge," whichinvolves a design vulnerability in some Kia and Hyundai cars. The flaw allows the ignition to be bypassed using a USB cable.

The most-affected vehicles are Kias built between 2010 and 2021 and Hyundais produced between 2015 and 2021.

Thieves typically break out a window to gain access to the vehicle, expose the steering column and fit a USB-A into a matching plug.

Hyundai and Kia models with push-button ignition come with a theft-preventative measure and do not have this issue, according to the sheriff's office.

After the vehicles are stolen, deputies said the vehicles have been found disabled within close proximity of where they were stolen from, crashed and left in the on position.

Vehicle owners of these models are urged to contact Kia or Hyundai for a software update and/or look into alternative theft prevention measurements.

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