A 13-year-old driver and a 16-year-old passenger led Georgia deputies on a high speed chase after allegedly using a viral technique and stealing a Hyundai Elantra car with a USB cord, police say.
Police in the Atlanta metro area are warning Hyundai and Kia owners after car thefts have grown rampant, with police reporting three thefts this past weekend.
Police have linked the sharp uptick of car thefts to viral social media videos, teaching people how to start the cars with USB cables and exploit a security vulnerability in some of Hyundai and Kia vehicles sold in the U.S. without engine immobilizers, a standard feature on most cars since the 1990s that prevented the engine from starting unless the key is present.
On Sunday, May 21, Coweta County Sheriff’s Office were responding to a 911 call for an unrelated report that someone was attempting to break into cars, when they attempted to pull over a white Hyundai Elantra.
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Police later learned the car was stolen by unusual suspects a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old.
Authorities said that the unnamed 13-year-old driver refused to pull over and led deputies on a high speed pursuit, up to 120 miles per hour. The inexperienced teen driving almost struck the patrol car head on, police said.
Dash camera footage showed deputies eventually using a maneuver to stop the stolen car in its tracks. The alleged thieves attempted to evade arrest, but body camera footage shows deputies quickly persuing the teens and arresting them.
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Both were turned over to juvenile authorities and face charges for car theft, felony fleeing and attempting to elude as well as entering autos.
Hyundai said that the issues with stolen vehicles have grown so bad in Atlanta area that they are sending letters to some owners warning them of the thefts.
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The company reported that the free repairs applied only to certain models of Hyundai vehicles. The letter stated the company would fix the car’s alarm and ignition logic, as well as apply window stickers warning thieves the cars were more secure.