Crime And Law

City threatens to sue car makers as TikTok challenge continues to tax police resources

DAYTON — One Midwest city has threatened to sue automakers Kia and Hyundai as the TikTok challenge to steal cars carrying those nameplates continues to tax police resources and victim’s nerves.

Officials in St. Louis, Missouri, are threatening to sue the automakers if steps aren’t taken to fix the vulnerable vehicles.

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In Dayton, reports of Kia and Hyundai vehicles being stolen are at an all-time high, News Center 7′s Mike Campbell reports, as police department officials say the department has received reports of more than 140 Kia & Hyundais involved in theft attempts this year, mostly in July and August.

Jennifer Hunter told News Center 7′s Campbell that a Dayton police officer tracked down her vehicle, which was stolen two weeks ago, a few moments after she reported it stolen. The teens that took it crashed into a parked vehicle six blocks away from where it was taken.

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“I don’t understand what motivates a person to take part in a challenge that is clearly illegal,” Hunter said Wednesday.

Big damage led the insurance to total the vehicle, meaning she lost the ride she called her favorite and had to come up with a down payment for another car.

>> RELATED: Dayton police warn that TikTok challenge is creating a storm of car thefts

Not only that, the incident complicated her life, which was already busy because of her added role as the caregiver for a family member.

“All I could think is, ‘you’ve taken my mobility away,’ it felt very personal, for sure,” she said.

Hunter is upset with the teenagers she believes committed the crime because of a TikTok Challenge. She’s upset with the social media platform she feels has been slow to react or pull the how-to criminal videos. And she’s upset with Kia & Hyundai, the automakers that have done little to fix the theft vulnerabilities that created the opening for the crime wave.

St. Louis, Missouri, officials, tired of tying up police resources because of the auto thefts, wrote a letter threatening to, Kia and Hyundai, blaming them for causing “a public safety crisis,” and “endangering the health, safety and peace of all who live , park and visit the city.”

Authorities in that city said police are averaging 21 Kia and Hyundai thefts a day in July and August.

Vehicle owners have also filed a class-action lawsuit, which Hunter said she may consider joining.

Dayton has not threatened to take legal action.

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Hyundai Motor Company officials said, in a statement, “We recently received the letter from the City of St. Louis and are preparing a formal response. Our vehicles are not defective and comply with all applicable safety regulations.”

Officials with Hyundai Motor America said they also plan to make aftermarket security kits available for purchase at authorized installers starting on Oct. 1. The security kit will apply to 2016-2021 Hyundai vehicles that do not have an engine immobilizer, company officials said.

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