The landscape of automobile theft in the United States has undergone a dramatic transformation, marked by a notable surge in the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Once regarded as a routine occurrence, car thefts have taken on a novel dimension, propelled by a phenomenon driven by digital culture and social media virality. The thefts of these specific car brands have evolved into what is now widely recognized as the "Kia Challenge," a term echoing across popular platforms like TikTok. In this challenge, young teenage individuals, often referred to as the "Kia Boys" or variations thereof, orchestrate daring car heists, commandeering Kia and Hyundai vehicles for high-speed joyrides, all of which are meticulously documented and shared across social media networks.
Part I of my article explores the unprecedented rise of Kia and Hyundai car thefts, exploring the driving factors behind this remarkable surge. Part II examines responses to the Kia Boys problem by vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement agencies, and consumers. Part III makes recommendations for dealing with the Kia Boys problem, with respect to law-enforcement agencies, state courts, and state legislatures. Overall, this article aims to examine the factors that have led to the emergence of the Kia Challenge, its consequences for society at large, and the urgent need for common-sense solutions to address this evolving threat in the world of automobile theft.
Drew Thornley, America’s “Kia Boys”: The Problem, Responses, and Recommendations, 47 SEATTLE U. L. REV. SUPRA 35 (2024).