Kia Boyz take over Trinity

TikTok trend arouses Kia Soul thefts around campus


Andrew Duong

Kia Soul on campus

TikTok’s recently trending “Kia challenge” encourages crimes against Kia owners by breaking in and hotwiring their cars. This social media trend seems to have made its way to Trinity’s campus beginning with the semester’s first car theft reported on March 18 involving a Kia Soul. Ten days later, another Kia Soul was reported stolen.

TUPD Sergeant Tony Lummus noted that this isn’t exactly a new issue, but it’s now becoming more targeted towards campus and neighboring universities.

“Car thefts have been going on forever really. This is a crime of opportunity. They will look for unlocked doors that are easier to break into,” Lummus said.

This trend first started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where a teen group calling themselves the “Kia Boyz” started exploiting this specific brand of car security systems. They began posting instructional videos about how to hack into a car’s security system and hot-wire it using only a screwdriver and USB cable. This is the result of Kias lacking an anti-theft device called an immobilizer that prevents a vehicle from starting when someone attempts to use a key or object that doesn’t match the car.

Lummus elaborated on how the social media trend has impacted the Trinity community by highlighting its arrival.

“These boys made a video, put it on TikTok and created a viral challenge that started to spread,” Lummus said. “We were mostly immune to it. It didn’t start hitting us until recently. It started in the northeast and worked itself towards the south. As TikTok got more popular, the more the Kia Boyz got around here.”

John Rowse, assistant police chief of TUPD, clarified what the vehicle thieves do with the Kia Souls.

“In most cases, with these challenges going on, they are not looking to keep the vehicles but to drive them around and leave them abandoned so that they can be found. On the other side, they can also be used for criminal activity,” Rowse said.

In response to the thefts, TUPD has reinforced their security through increased surveillance.

“We’ve started sending officers to go around campus immediately after the second car was taken to see what’s the main concentration of parking for Kia Souls. Officers on duty would have greater focus on those areas especially in the evening and the night time, which is when these were taken,” Rowse said. “If this were to continue, we will implement the ‘directed patrol’ [program], where we would put an officer in plainclothes hiding somewhere watching certain areas. This is harder to detect because it’s not the same person. We have different suspects for the two different vehicles.”

Hillary Solomon, senior communication major and history minor, explained what happened when she found out her vehicle was not in the place she had left it the night before.

“I was hanging out with my friends, and we were planning to go to Trader Joe’s. So, we walked into the Prassel garage, which is where my car was parked. I remembered the parking spot that I was in, and I did not see my car there. The only thing I could see was glass on the ground where my car was parked,” Solomon explained.

Solomon used the application “LoJack,” a feature Kia installed to track your car’s different trips. Hillary explained the usefulness of this application through this experience.

“I checked [LoJack] just to see where my car was: it said it was like 5.9 miles away from campus. I knew then that my car was gone, so I ended up calling TUPD and reporting that my car was stolen,” Solomon said.

Fortunately, Solomon’s car was found with TUPD and SAPD’s collaboration, but there are still consequences she has to deal with from the robbery.

“Currently my car is in a repair shop nearby. They busted out the back passenger window, messed up the ignition and bent the rim of one of the tires outwards. There is structural damage that will cost me around $3,000 to fix. I don’t have a car, so I’ve been relying on my friends for transportation,” Solomon said.

In order for students to be prepared under any circumstance, Lummus and Rowse suggested different precautions.

“We don’t want people to fear that something bad is always going to happen. Unfortunately, it does happen everywhere; we’re a small community and our officers are on the lookout to prevent this from happening,” Rowse said.

Lummus emphasized the importance of help from students and faculty, like reporting suspicious activity to the SeeSay app. This app has different features where you can report any suspicious activity, so it will be in TUPD’s hands immediately.