Atlanta police launch efforts to curb Kia and Hyundai car thefts

An Atlanta Police officer gathers information from a Hyundai driver at a shopping plaza in Southwest Atlanta on April 5 before handing her a free club. (Chamian Cruz/WABE)

The Atlanta Police Department said it’s planning to facilitate a security software update following a social media-driven rise in Kia and Hyundai car thefts.

On Wednesday, April 5, Maj. Antonio Clay was one of several officers handing out free car clubs to residents in Southwest Atlanta in an attempt to curb thefts.

According to police, the city’s overall number of stolen vehicles is up some 800%, with Kias and Hyundais making up more than half.

“Since I’ve been out here today, we’ve had 10 to 15 cars already come up,” Clay said. “One of the vehicles’ back windows was busted out. It still had glass on the seat.”

The uptick is related to the so-called Kia Boyz Challenge – a TikTok trend that explains how to steal Kia or Hyundai models with only a screwdriver and a USB cord due to a glitch in the cars’ software.

An Atlanta Police officer helps to hand out free clubs at a shopping plaza in Southwest Atlanta on April 5 to owners of a Hyundai or Kia. The effort is an attempt to prevent auto thefts. (Chamian Cruz/WABE)

Capt. Ralph Woolfolk said juveniles in zones 1, 3 and 4 typically commit the thefts, with many being closely related to gang activity. He added that the mayor’s office is offering several youth programs to try to keep them engaged.

“There is no excuse for youth to be out in our city streets stealing vehicles,” Woolfolk said. “This is your warning: As we move into the summer, we are adopting a non-tolerance policy as it pertains to this.”

Meanwhile, insurance companies like Progressive and StateFarm have stopped issuing new auto policies for some Hyundai and Kia models. The change does not apply to existing customers.

Woolfolk said Atlanta police are in talks with Kia and Hyundai to provide a free software update that will lengthen car alarms to a minute and require the key to be in the ignition to turn the vehicle on.

He did not provide more details on when more updates would be released.