Irresponsible social media posts have led to serious and sometimes deadly situations. One only needs to think of the Tide pod challenge, where people died after eating them.
Add another one to that list.
A TikTok video has created a serious public safety issue when the “Kia Boyz” showed how to break into and steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles using a USB cord to bypass the ignition system.
Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) sponsors a bill that would require Kia and Hyundai to install approved antitheft protection devices in their vehicles without them at no cost to owners. The bill does not specify if the vehicle must be registered in Minnesota or purchased in the state.
“Minnesotans deserve safety, and that should extend to the basic peace of mind that comes with the cars they purchase,” Tabke said. “If automakers aren’t going to help consumers when their products are clearly targeted for theft, it’s up to the state to step up and do right by Minnesotans.”
Tabke said models built after Jan. 1, 2013, without antitheft, immobilizing devices would be affected.
At a morning news conference, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said more than 3,300 vehicles from the two carmakers were stolen in the metro area since the TikTok video went viral last summer.
Although the rise in the number of thefts is disturbing, he said, equally concerning are crimes many of the thieves commit while using the stolen cars.
“This is not only about the theft of vehicles,” O’Hara said. “This is about ensuring that young people do not become involved in these crimes, do not risk their own lives and the lives of other people, and then wind-up graduating to more serious crimes.”
A lobbyist for automobile manufacturers said the federal government is where vehicle design, construction and performance requirements should be mandated.
Representing the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, Patrick Hynes said if individual states got involved in these issues, auto manufactures would have to deal with “an unworkable patchwork” of various requirements that would bring the industry to a halt.
He said Kia and Hyundai have offered no-cost solutions to consumers, including ignition system software upgrades and steering wheel locks.
Republicans find it “bizarre” and “silly” to go after carmakers instead of the criminals.
“It’s bizarre … to hold businesses accountable when there is a complete lack of accountability within the criminal justice system and the City of Minneapolis,” said Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (R-North Branch).
Tabke “vehemently” disagrees with that assessment, saying the bill focus is consumer protection.
Carmakers should be held accountable because they deliberately chose to omit adequate anti-theft devices in their vehicles for almost a decade, he said.