Undercover NYPD Cop's Kia Optima Stolen In TikTok Car Theft Challenge

Offbeat / 7 Comments

The group of thieves took the unmarked cop car on a 12-hour joyride.

An undercover New York City Police Department officer's unmarked Kia Optima was stolen by four thieves and taken on a 12-hour joyride before crashing the vehicle, according to the New York Post.

It is suspected the thieves took inspiration from the ongoing TikTok Auto Theft Challenge, a trend that began last June. As previously reported, thieves discovered a weakness in several 2011-2021 Kia and Hyundai models using a simple screwdriver and USB charging cord.

Earlier this week, we learned that major insurers like Progressive and State Farm would no longer issue new policies for several of these models in St. Louis, Missouri, and Columbus, Ohio. A group of teenagers who prefer to call themselves the "Kia Boys" originated this troubling trend.

And now an NYPD officer has become one of the latest victims.

2019-2020 Kia Optima Front Angle View CarBuzz
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In this case, the thieves took the unmarked vehicle from - wait for it - outside of the 45th Precinct's Detective Bureau at around 12:30 a.m. last Tuesday. The car was finally recovered at 11:20 a.m. when patrol officers located it thanks to its tracking device about four miles away, and a chase immediately ensued. The thieves managed to crash the Kia into several parked cars in the Bronx before fleeing on foot.

Police managed to question two people they have reason to believe were involved, but neither has been charged. Older Kias and Hyundais are targeted because they have turn-key ignitions rather than a push-button start system.

Evidently, this makes them vulnerable.

2019-2020 Kia Optima Central Console CarBuzz
2019-2020 Kia Optima Gauge Cluster CarBuzz

It's sadly becoming a nationwide trend, and social media platforms like TikTok are helping to "spread the word." Authorities, insurance companies, and owners are rightfully angry and demanding that the South Korean automaker do more to push its supposed fix.

The posted videos prove the hacking procedure is simple enough for anyone to replicate. Aside from the Optima (which has been renamed the K5), other vulnerable Hyundai Motor Group vehicles include the Kia Soul, Sportage, Veloster, and the Hyundai Sonata (the Optima's corporate twin).

For this latest theft, however, it remains unclear whether the thieves used a USB cord, but no one would be surprised if that were indeed the case.

2019-2020 Kia Optima Armrest CarBuzz
2019-2020 Kia Optima Gear Shifter CarBuzz

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