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Last updated: February 17, 2023

The TikTok Challenge That Teaches Teens to Steal Cars

Teens are stealing cars with USB cables in under 30 seconds flat.

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If you own certain Hyundai or Kia vehicle models and need car insurance, you may run into some trouble — if you’re looking at State Farm and Progressive, anyway. These two auto insurance companies are refusing to cover some models of these manufacturers, citing their susceptibility to auto theft. And the scariest part? It’s all due to a TikTok challenge with the hashtag #KiaBoys.

The Viral Challenge That’s Teaching Teens to Steal Cars

Click on the tag #KiaBoys on TikTok and you’ll see that, at least as of February 2, 2023, it has 27.2 million views, and millions more on YouTube. Although many of the TikTok videos under this hashtag have notices stating that “participating in this activity could result in you or others getting hurt,” they are still getting significant traction on both platforms. These videos teach kids how to hot-wire certain Hyundai and Kia models using only a USB charging cable. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is now petitioning YouTube to take down these videos.1

The process depicted in such videos is simple, and only requires someone to gain access to the vehicle, remove the steering wheel column, and hot-wire it with a USB cable. This viral trick, which takes 20 to 30 seconds from start to finish, teaches kids how to commit auto theft — in some cases, before they’re even old enough to drive.

Once the teens in the videos steal these vehicles, they use the stolen cars for joyrides or to commit other crimes. They then abandon the cars, often with major damages, on the side of roads.2

Where Hyundai and Kia Thefts Happen the Most

Across the U.S., car theft is on the rise. From 2020 to 2021, it increased by 6 percent, following a 17 percent increase from 2019 to 2020. The problem is worse in certain cities, like Columbus, Ohio, and Denver, Colorado, which have experienced high numbers of Hyundai and Kia thefts.3 However, it’s unclear why those car types are being targeted apart from the fact that they are easier to steal for reasons we detail below.

Columbus, Ohio

From July 2021 to 2022, car theft attempts in Columbus rose from 43 to 733, an increase of over 1,600 percent. As for actual car thefts, Columbus saw 3,000 in 2021 and 4,000 in 2022, a 34 percent increase, according to Duane Marby, the city’s police commander.

Significantly, 45 percent of the cars stolen were Kias and Hyundais, thefts that are attributed to the viral TikTok videos. Unfortunately, some of the thefts have also been connected to other crimes, including at least four homicides.4

Denver, Colorado

The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area was the No. 2 core-based statistical area in the U.S. for auto theft in 2021, with 964 cars stolen per 100,000 residents, according to NICB data. As of February 2, 2023, the neighborhood around the Denver International Airport had the highest motor vehicle theft rates in the state, with 61.74 thefts per 1,000 residents, or 76 total instances so far in 2023.5

Notably, auto theft in Denver increased by 160 percent from 2018 to 2022. The majority of cars stolen were Hyundai and Kia models, according to local reports.6


Colorado is the number one state in terms of car theft, with 661 auto thefts per 100,000 residents in 2021.

Other Cities

Additional cities affected by the Hyundai/Kia thefts and this disturbing TikTrend include:

  • St. Petersburg, Florida: As of September of 2022, over one-third of cars stolen since mid-July were linked to the TikTok challenge in this Florida city.
  • Los Angeles, California: In 2022, the city saw an 85 percent increase in thefts of Hyundai and Kias year over year.
  • Chicago, Illinois: Here, thefts of certain Hyundai and Kia models are up 800 percent from the summer months.


Another form of auto theft that’s on the rise is catalytic converter theft. From 2019 to 2022, it increased by 1,215 percent, as the converters contain precious metals worth anywhere from $940 to $12,300, according to the NICB.

Insurance Providers Refuse to Cover Hyundais and Kias

As a result of this auto theft trend, State Farm and Progressive are no longer covering some Hyundai and Kia models from 2010 through 2021 that use mechanical keys, as opposed to key fobs and push buttons. Cars powered by mechanical keys are easier to steal, which seems to be the main reason these vehicles are being targeted.

Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

Car insurance covers theft only if you have comprehensive coverage, which no state requires. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage already, we recommend getting it as part of full-coverage car insurance. In addition to auto theft, it covers any damages to your car from non-collisions, such as vandalism or inclement weather.

If your entire car is stolen, as opposed to a vehicle part, comprehensive coverage can pay to replace it with a vehicle of the same actual market value (AMV) — that is, what you paid for the car originally minus depreciation. To get back exactly what you paid, you would need new car replacement coverage.

Fortunately, if you’re one of the drivers State Farm and Progressive rejected, you can still find other providers for insurance coverage. Check out our list of the best auto insurance companies to learn more.


  1. With Kia and Hyundai Thefts Spiking, Insurance Industry Associations Encourage YouTube To Remove ‘How To’ Videos. National Insurance Crime Bureau. (2023, Jan 19).

  2. TikTok challenge spurs rise in thefts of Kia, Hyundai cars. CNBC. (2022, Sep 9).

  3. State Farm, Progressive refuse coverage for two major auto brands. Insurance Business America. (2023, Jan 27).

  4. Columbus car thefts on the rise. NBC4. (2022, Jul 5).

  5. The best and worst Denver neighborhoods for motor vehicle thefts. Denver Crimes. (2023, Feb 16).

  6. Why some Kia and Hyundai vehicles top Denver’s most stolen list. Denver 7 ABC. (2022, Oct 4).