Md. police advise at-risk Kia, Hyundai owners to remove phone chargers from cars

Car theft is becoming a far more prevalent crime than in years past, and police in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are warning the owners of Kias and Hyundais to take their phone chargers out of their cars.

A challenge circulating on social media, which shows how to start the cars using only a USB cable, has become the bane of car owners and police officers.

Prince George’s County police suspect it’s how a 15- and two 14-year-old boys started a Kia that was reported stolen in Bowie. The teens face several charges, including theft, unlawful removal of a motor vehicle, and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, a Prince George’s County police news release said.

Prince George’s County police share photo of evidence found inside a stolen Kia recovered in Temple Hills, Maryland, that they believe was stolen by using a USB cable. (Courtesy Prince George’s County police)

If you drive one of those types of cars, police advise you to take any USB charging cables out of your car and invest in a brake pad club or car alarm, noting your car is twice as likely to be stolen than your neighbors.

In fact, the crime is becoming so common that both State Farm and Progressive insurance companies will no longer cover policies for certain model years in some states, as they said the vehicles lack basic anti-theft technology.

CNN reported that the cars “don’t have electronic immobilizers, which rely on a computer chip in the car and another in the key, that communicate to confirm that the key really belongs to that vehicle. Without the right key, an immobilizer should do just that — stop the car from moving.”

CNN reported that both car companies have started offering improved security software on the affected models and are notifying owners of the needed repairs to their vehicles.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up