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Teens Are Stealing More Cars. They Learn How on Social Media.

Published by Slashdot on Sun, 12 Mar 2023

Though Kia and Hyundai represent a tenth of U.S. auto sales, the New York Times reports that "Of the nearly 11,000 cars stolen in Memphis last yearabout twice as many as in 2021roughly a third were late-model Kias and Hyundais, according to the police." "It doesn't take much to rip them off: just a screwdriver, a USB cord and hot-wiring know-how found in videos proliferating on social media."Many of the culprits are teenagers or young adults stealing cars for kicks or to use them for other crimes, such as robberies, the police say. More than half of the 175 people arrested and accused of car theft this year in Memphis were teenagers, who often abandon the vehicles after a joyride.... [A]uto thefts have continued to rise, even as other forms of lawbreaking have leveled out or fallen.... [T]he surge has continued, fueled in part by social media videos that show, step by step, how to steal Kias and Hyundais that are not equipped with an engine immobilizeran electronic security device that keeps a car from being started without a key.... [Kia and Hyundai] recently issued statements saying they had fixed the problem that makes their vehicles relatively easy to steal in their latest models, and were introducing free software upgrades for vulnerable carsabout 4.5 million Kias and 3.8 million Hyundais, the federal government estimated. At the same time, the companies have shipped steering wheel locks to police departments across the country, to be provided free of charge to car owners who drive at-risk models. And executives say they are constantly monitoring TikTok and YouTube for new videos that show how to steal their vehicles, and then alerting the social media companies so those videos can be removed.... Officials say the social media-driven rise in Kia and Hyundai thefts began about two years ago in Milwaukee, and then spread nationwide. City attorneys for Seattle and Columbus recently sued the automakers for not installing anti-theft technology, and other cities, including Cleveland, Milwaukee and St. Louis, have threatened litigation.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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