By: Richard L. Smith
Police in Newark are looking for several masked suspects wanted for stealing a vehicle in the city’s West Ward Tuesday morning.
Authorities are now looking into whether several Kias and Hyundais are a part of thousands taken in a TickTok challenge trend for the anti-theft software defective vehicles.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., police were dispatched to investigate a vehicle theft that occurred in front of the Kipp Rise Academy Charter School located inside the old St. Rocco’s Catholic School on Ashland Street.
Upon arrival, police learned that masked males exited a stolen Kia and a Hyundai and stole a 2017 Blue Hyundai Elantra (4-door sedan).
This vehicle had NJ license plate numbers “M27-JMH”. About 8 other individuals have reported the same type of vehicles stolen from in front of homes and businesses in Newark, residents told RLS Media.
Over 8 million of these vehicles are eligible for the free anti-theft software upgrade after the so-called ‘Kia Challenge’ on social media resulted in thousands of car thefts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA officials said the dangerous challenge spreading on TikTok and other social media platforms has car owners and police departments on alert across the country — challenging young teens to steal certain cars off the street using a USB cord.
Officials said thieves known as “the Kia Boyz” would post instructional videos about how to bypass the vehicles’ security system using tools as simple as a USB cable.
Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia are offering to update the “theft alarm software logic” to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute, NHTSA said.
The vehicles will also be updated to require a key in the ignition switch to turn the car on.
The owner of the stolen Hyundai on Ashland Street said the suspects appeared to be juveniles.