Pittsburgh police warning residents of crimes involving teens using USB cords to steal cars

PITTSBURGH — A national crime trend involving teenagers using USB cords to steal vehicles is currently hitting the Pittsburgh area.

“That’s crazy,” said Chanda Coleman, driver of a Kia. “That’s really wild. Really wild.”

How-to videos on how to steal Kias are all over YouTube. On Tik Tok, you’ll find the “Kia Challenge.”

“A collaborative group started out in Milwaukee, and it’s spreading across the country where they’re able to take these vehicles simply by using a cellphone charging cable and using that to start the vehicle,” said Pittsburgh Police Sgt. Tom Huerbin.

Huerbin says out of the Milwaukee area, there’s been upwards of 15,000 vehicles stolen.

“They’re doing mechanical and cosmetic damage,” said Huerbin. “They’re wrecking the cars. They’re getting into vehicle pursuits. They’re damaging them, using their lighters to burn names of their group inside the vehicles.’

Last month, in the city of Pittsburgh, five Hyundais and Kias were stolen using USB cables. This month, that number is up to 15.

“So obviously it’s on the rise in the area here, so it’s of some concern,” said Huerbin. “And we want to make people aware of that.”

Another thing to point out is the years of the vehicles being stolen this way, mostly 2008s through 2019s.

“It’s not going to be something you see on a recall because it’s not really a safety issue, but it is something of concern to us,” said Huerbin.

Pittsburgh police say some arrests have been made, and it’s been mostly teenagers committing this crime.

Police suggest using steering wheel lock bars, locking your doors, parking in well-lit areas and installing security cameras.

Below is a statement from Hyundai:

“Hyundai Motor America is concerned with the rise in local auto thefts. The safety and well-being of our customers and the community is and will remain our top priority. These vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and engine immobilizers are standard equipment on all new Hyundai vehicles. Hyundai customers who have questions can always contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151.”

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