AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police shared a warning Monday afternoon for people who drive either Kia or Hyundai vehicles. Detectives said they’re investigating a growing number of thefts targeting those cars throughout the community.

Two officers from the Austin Police Department’s auto theft interdiction team said this is likely part of the “Kia Challenge” making the rounds on social media. They described this scheme as thieves exploiting a “design vulnerability” in Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which makes it easier for them to steal.

Police said thieves are ripping apart the steering column, exposing the wiring and then somehow using a USB to eventually start the vehicles and drive away.

Officers shared the following ways for people to better protect their property:

  • Buy a locking bar and place it on your steering wheel.
  • Conceal a tracking device in the vehicle, like an Apple AirTag.
  • Install a working alarm system.