Killeen, TX News
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KILLEEN, Texas — A nationwide TikTok trend is making its way to Central Texas. It's a trend where teenagers steal Kia vehicles with just a cable and screwdriver. Now, victims are urging other drivers to be careful before it's too late.
People in Killeen are calling the group the '254 Kia Guys', but police have not confirmed if that is an actual group they are investigating. Either way, residents say kids are targeting several neighborhoods in Bell County.
Homeowners claim the group is made up of four to six teenagers. They start by breaking into a Kia, removing the steering column cover, jamming a makeshift key into the ignition cylinder and starting the car.
Killeen resident Daniel Foxhill says the group hit his previous neighborhood and even stole his sister's Kia outside of her apartment. The car was found 16 hours later, dumped on the side of the road.
Foxhill told 6 News police arrested a suspect, but they were later released. He believes people are hopping on the trend because they are minors and can get away with it.
"It's impressive on their side but kind of concerning on the fact that Kia and Hyundai have made vehicles so easy to break into and steal," Foxhill said. "A lot of people rely on this, their vehicle as their main mode of transportation to and from, you know, their main form of currency intake. It's affecting people in a terrible way."
Darcy Corcoran says her Kia was broken into four times in the span of eight months.
"I bought it Sept. 27," Corcoran said. "The bank finalized the paperwork on Oct. 6. Oct. 7, I got up. I was going to get ready for work. I looked out the window, car was gone."
Now Corcoran is left without a car and relies on bus transportation. She is also out hundreds of dollars.
"Even if you are paying a $500 deductible and $450 car note, they still want their money," Corcoran said. "It's just disappointing... That's kind of a reason why also that I let the car go because it's gonna keep happening... It's just too much."
And Corcoran believes it won't stop anytime soon.
"They've got kids out here as little as 12 years old," Corcoran added. "They're just doing it because they have influencers. The older ones I'm sure that know about it are getting these younger ones to do it now so that they can take the rap for it."
James Bell with Kia America sent 6 News the following statement on theft and software upgrades on Aug. 30, 2023:
Kia continues to take action to help our customers by making it more difficult for criminals to use methods of theft recently popularized on social media to steal certain vehicle models. In addition to recently announcing an agreement that will allow customers who have been impacted by vehicle thefts to receive additional benefits, Kia has already notified all eligible owners and lessees of these vehicle models – over 3 million total – that they are able to receive the free security software upgrade that we have developed. To date, more than 660,000 vehicles nationwide have received the upgrade, which is designed to restrict the operation of the vehicle’s ignition system should a potential criminal attempt to steal a locked vehicle without the key. We have established a dedicated website where eligible owners can learn more about how to receive the free upgrade: https://ksupport.kiausa.com/ConsumerAffairs/SWLD and we are also working to promote the upgrade’s availability and have even hosted an event to encourage eligible customers to have the upgrade installed.
We also continue to provide steering wheel locks to owners of impacted vehicles that are not eligible for the software upgrade at no cost to them. Customers can obtain free, Kia-provided locks through their local law enforcement, or they can request a steering wheel lock from Kia directly through the dedicated website. To date, we have distributed more than 190,000 locks and we will continue to provide them as they are needed.
Lawsuits filed by municipalities against Kia are without merit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has publicly stated that it has not determined that this issue constitutes either a safety defect or non-compliance requiring a recall under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
Kia has been and continues to be willing to work cooperatively with law enforcement agencies across the country to combat car theft and the role social media has played in encouraging it, and we remain committed to supporting our customers and to vehicle security.
The Killen Police Department says it has been made aware of the nationwide "KIA Challenge" on TikTok.
The department says there are several ways to minimize the threat of car theft. These include the following:
6 News reached out to Temple Police as well. They confirmed several Kia's have been reported stolen this year.
More stories by Reporter Sydney Dishon:More stories by Reporter Sydney Dishon: