ROCKFORD - Area police departments are urging owners of newer model Kia and Hyundai vehicles to take measures to prevent their cars from being stolen.
The warning comes in response to a rash of social media posts offering people tips on how to easily steal the cars.
Several videos have been uploaded to TikTok, YouTube and other social media platforms this summer advising people on how to use a USB cord to steal a Kia manufactured from 2011 to 2021 or a Hyundai manufactured between 2015 and 2021.
Some videos show teens and young adults taking the stolen cars for joy rides and, in some cases, crashing the vehicles.
Newer models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles continue to be targeted by thieves, the Rockford police department posted on its Facebook page Thursday.
"Due to the style of ignition systems in those vehicles, they have shown to be more vulnerable than others," Rockford police spokesperson Michelle Marcomb said in a statement.
Rockford police recommend owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles use a steering wheel locking device, park in well-lit areas, keep doors locked at all times, do not keep personal items or valuables in the car and consider aftermarket alarm systems or anti-theft devices.
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While Freeport police have not seen a spike in thefts of Kia's or Hyundai's, the department is urging caution, according to Freeport Police deputy chief Travis Davis.
"We're aware of the trend and the TikTok videos," Davis said. "We're asking people to lock their car doors and report any suspicious activity."
Two Iowa residents recently filed a class-action lawsuit against the carmakers, alleging some Kia and Hyundai models don't comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that requires vehicles to have a starting system that prevents the activation of the engine and locks the steering column once the ignition key is removed.
The lawsuit alleges the companies "admit there is a theft and safety problem with these vehicles but refuse to fix them, compensate consumers or otherwise take actions" to address the issue, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported.
In a written statement, Kia America said it "is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts" and says all 2022 models have an immobilizer in place. "All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards," the company said.
Hyundai Motor America said its vehicles "meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards" and added engine immobilizers "are standard equipment on all new Hyundai vehicles."
Ken DeCoster covers business news and features. Contact him at 815-987-1391, email@example.com or @DeCosterKen.
This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Rockford police warn against Kia, Hyundai car theft TikTok challenge