Memphian’s car stolen, said to be connected to viral ‘Kia Challenge’

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:54 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One Memphian says both he and police believe his stolen car was connected to TikTok’s viral “Kia Challenge.”

The Bluff City recently surpassed 10,000 vehicle theft crimes this year, including thefts from vehicles and thefts of the vehicles themselves.

One of those vehicles belonged to Kelly Alvarado.

“I went out to the driveway, and there was no car,” Alvarado said.

It was 6 a.m. on Sept. 5 when Alvarado had his car stolen from his Falkirk Road home.

He was about to head to his job in Arlington when he discovered he would be delayed getting to the office that day.

When he was talking with police, he said officers already had an idea about what they were dealing with.

“I said I drive a Hyundai, and (officers) went ‘Oh! We know why your car was stolen.’”

Alvarado said the officers on scene told him about the “Kia Challenge,” a trend on TikTok that exploits a flaw in the design of specific, later-model Kias and Hyundais.

The flaw allows these vehicles to be stolen easier than most.

“(Officers) let me know that — more than likely — it was kids, and that they were going to find the car crashed somewhere. They found the car two or three days later, and it was crashed in the front and in the back,” Alvarado said.

He said it “looked like it was taken by kids,” as the car was full of empty bags, chips and bottles of Pepsi.

“I was more surprised than anything at how easy it was to look up the challenge and find out how to steal that car,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado’s Hyundai is one of 4,714 vehicles that have been stolen this year, according to MPD’s last monthly crime update to City Council.

There have also been 5,370 thefts from vehicles, as well as 269 carjackings.

Memphis police did not respond to Action News 5′s request for comment on how many of those thefts are related or believed to be related to the “Kia Challenge,” nor would they respond on if the department is working to provide preventative measures to drivers like security kits.

“We thought we would call Hyundai and just see what their solution was,” Alvarado said. “Their solution is to get a bar for your wheel... at our own expense.”

Due to the shortage of mechanics and needing to have a mechanic go through the insurance vetting process, Alvarado said he was told he wouldn’t be getting his car back until December.

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