COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Over the last year, certain model years of Kia vehicles have been a target for thieves.
A TikTok trend, the “Kia Challenge,” demonstrated how to quickly and easily start and steal certain Kia models. That led to a massive uptick of car thefts across the country, and right here in central Ohio.
James Bell, Head of Corporate Communications for Kia America said the automaker was well aware of the problem from the start.
“We went directly to our associates in Research and Development in Korea and came up with this software upgrade solution,” Bell said.
Kia America started to roll out that software upgrade solution, an anti-theft repair, to dealerships nationwide in February. But months later, for some areas, like Columbus, the problem persisted.
That’s why Kia America will bring the solution to Capital City car owners. The manufacturer will host an in-person, mobile software upgrade service clinic Oct. 27, Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.
“We’re just really trying to focus it in areas that we think it could be, provide the most assistance,” Bell said. “When I was given the list of cities that we were going to look at, I took Columbus and put it up at the top, because I knew that it had to be.”
Bell said specially-trained Kia technicians and local law enforcement will be at the clinic each day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Obetz Athletic Club, at 2050 Recreation Trail, to install the software upgrade. For the car owner, Bell said the process will be simple.
“There’s no appointment necessary,” said Bell. “Again, free of charge. Basically, you arrive. You wait in a very short line. Meet a person, who then punches in the VIN number of your vehicle. And then, they basically just drive the vehicle into a tented area. There’s a little, nice little waiting room with coffee and snacks and things where you can kind of sit and wait, and the whole process takes about 25 to 35 minutes. So, really not much more than an oil change or something of that nature. So, and then you’re back on your way.”
And hopefully, Bell said, car owners will leave with a little more security.
“I think it really comes down to just providing that level of peace of mind. And at an event, last week, actually in Milwaukee, I spoke with some of the people as they came out of the process,” Bell said. “And I said, you know, ‘How do you feel about this now?’ And they said, ‘It just, it gives me comfort. I now feel a degree of protection.'”
Bell said steering wheel locks will also be provided during the event, as an added deterrent. You can find out if you’re eligible for the upgrade before the clinic here.