Car Missing?

Here's what to do

  • First, check to see if it’s been towed. The location where you parked may have a dedicated towing company; start there.
  • Once you’ve confirmed it hasn’t been towed, call the police immediately and file a report. You will need to have your vehicle’s information, starting with plate number and VIN, so try and gather your documents together because you’ll need them for the rest of this process too.
  • Don’t forget to list all the belongings that were in your car!
  • Next, call your insurance company and file a claim. They will need a copy of the police report and ask you for a detailed statement.
  • If you are still paying off the vehicle or it’s a lease, you must alert your lessor or lienholder. Depending on whether it’s recovered, they will work together with your insurance company as well.
  • Finally, alert the DMV. Not everyone thinks to do this, and it’s an important step. Your plates will be marked as stolen, and your registration canceled, so you won’t incur any fines.


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Mystery Shopper: Recovering a Stolen Kia (Screw You, Kia Boyz)

An East Kensington resident was a victim of the “Kia Boyz” car theft trend. Here’s what happened when they tried to get their car back

Mystery Shopper: Recovering a Stolen Kia (Screw You, Kia Boyz)

An East Kensington resident was a victim of the “Kia Boyz” car theft trend. Here’s what happened when they tried to get their car back

In July of 2022, I purchased my first car in eight years, a 2016 Kia Rio. Car ownership was a big deal for me. I’d been a devoted public transit user, and SEPTA had (frequently) served me well. But I was at a place in life where I could afford a vehicle of my own, and where I frequently had far-enough-away places to go that purchasing a car seemed like a good idea.

Despite all of my automotive research, I was not aware of the viral trend showing off how easy it is to steal Kias. I would have steered clear of Kia models if I had known about … the Kia Boyz challenge.

The Kia Boyz challenge, like the blackout challenge, the bathroom challenge, the Tide Pod challenge, the Nyquil chicken challenge and dozens more inane and dangerous dares, was born in someone’s mind and perpetuated through YouTube and TikTok.

Both Kias and Hyundais are made by the Hyundai Motor Group, and both 2011-2021 model year Kias and 2016-2021 Hyundais that use a steel key — not a fob/push button combo — to start share a design flaw. These cars lack engine immobilizers, which are, according to Axios, “devices that don’t allow the car to start without the correct smart key present.” So, thieves “bust a window and remove part of the steering column’s cover, exposing the ignition. They break the ignition cylinder off and start the vehicle with a flathead screwdriver or USB plug-in.” In olden days, a similar method of grand theft auto was called “hot-wiring.” Good times.

Detailed look at how the Kia Boyz exploit a weakness in the ignitions of some Kia and Hyundai vehicles
Detailed look at how the Kia Boyz exploit a weakness in the ignitions of some Kia and Hyundai vehicles

Last year, of the 12,471 vehicles reported stolen in Philly, 2,590 (or 21 percent) were of Hyundais and Kias, up from 639 (or 7 percent) of all car thefts in 2021, the Inquirer reported. Philly’s uptick in Kia and Hyundai thefts mirror the national trend, mostly in major, but not all, cities.

My Kia will be part of next year’s list, I suppose. (Thx again, Kia Boyz.) Here’s what happened when it went missing.

Steps I took to recover my stolen Kia:

    1. On February 2, I couldn’t find my car in the parking lot where I remembered parking it, and thought I was just being forgetful. So, I took a walk around the block to see if I had parked it on the street. It was not there either.
    2. When I got back to the parking lot, I called the towing company. Luckily, the dedicated lot behind my building has the towing company’s number posted. (I would not know what towing company to call if I were parking on the street.) The towing company said they hadn’t been to my area and to call the police.
    3. I checked where I had parked, saw some broken glass, and was ready to admit that my car had been stolen.
    4. I thought this wasn’t an emergency, so I looked up my local precinct’s number. Wrong. They told me to dial 911. They sent an officer out to the location of the theft to take my report, no ETA.
    5. Next, I called my friend out of town whom I was supposed to visit the following day to tell them what happened and that I couldn’t come. After some reassurance and some good life advice like, “Check if you have GAP insurance,” “What’s your comprehensive deductible?” and “See if there’s a security video,” I got off the phone to look some of these things up.
    6. Thirty minutes later, the officer arrived. He asked the last time I saw the car, if the car had any identifying characteristics, and if I was up-to-date on payments. He then handed me a form with the police report number on it and told me to call my insurance company with the report number.
    7. Instead of calling, I went on my insurance app and filed a claim — which consisted of a couple clicks — and left a note with the police report record. I was worried, because I had signed up for my new, less expensive insurance plan at 10 pm the night prior to the theft. My car insurance policy was so new that the charge for 6 months had not even cleared on my card. Right after I submitted the claim (about 5 pm), I read through all the fine print to make sure there was no vesting time or contingencies.
    8. After realizing there was nothing else to do, I cried for a few minutes. Then I went back to work to distract myself.
    9. Insurance called the next day and asked exactly what happened.
    10. I explained and received their long request list of documents, including: all service receipts, loan documents, a screenshot of me calling my friend and the police, my receipt from the grocery store I went to the night before I discovered my car was missing — my last trip in the car — a picture of the spot it was stolen, an affidavit saying it was stolen …
    11. I submitted everything and waited.
    12. Two days later, I heard from Pat, my awesome insurance representative. He said he had all of the materials and was processing them.
    13. A week and a half later, he called to say they found my car. I had read that 60 percent of cars are recovered, but usually within the first week, so I was doubtful I’d see my car again until I got the news. I received no information about the state of the car except that the back window was broken and the steering column cover removed. Pat asked if I needed a rental. My policy says “No Rental Coverage,” so I asked about the advantage of renting through them. He said they cover it, which was a surprise.
    14. Within 10 minutes, Pat sent me an address to an Enterprise rental location with a reservation code, as well as the address to get a police release form that is required for them to allow your vehicle to leave the lot where it is in holding.
    15. Then, I called a couple mechanics to see who had availability to take in my broken hatchback. I confirmed one place and let them know my car would arrive via tow that day or the next.
    16. Then, I picked up my rental. Insurance covers $30 per day, so I got the cheapest model (not a Kia or Hyundai) and was left paying the difference: $3 per day.
    17. I drove to the Philadelphia Police Neighborhood Services Unit in Hunting Park at 4000 North American Street. It looks like a used car lot with a lot of CLIP trucks everywhere. I drove into the parking lot, thought “this can’t be right” and circled the block twice, then returned, found the sign for the entrance, and parked. The building was a warehouse, and a big sign that read “car theft recovery” was hung on a wall next to a dark-tinted window. There were two people in line in front of me, my comrades in Kia Boyz car theft. The line moved quickly.

      The Kia Boyz challenge, like the blackout challenge, the bathroom challenge, the Tide Pod challenge, the Nyquil chicken challenge and dozens more inane and dangerous dares, was born in someone’s mind and perpetuated through YouTube and TikTok.

      Behind the tinted window, an officer was doing paperwork. When I was up, he came out of the side door to take my ID and insurance, retreated back to his desk, and returned about five minutes later with the release form, then quickly moved on to the next person in line. The release form stated where the car was located and the damage to my car: One flat tire, rear left door damage, rear right door, and window damage.

    18. Immediately, sitting in my rental in the pouring rain in the parking lot, I sent this information to Pat, along with the name of the garage where I wanted to have it fixed.
    19. A couple hours passed while my insurance company sent out their appraiser to verify and price the damage, arranged the tow truck, and dropped it off at my mechanic.
    20. The next day, I got verification that they had received my car and would have a quote for me on a Monday a few days later.
    21. On Tuesday, I received a call from the mechanic saying that the car was wrecked and it might need to go to a body shop. The damages were up to a couple thousand dollars, not including labor.
      Some of the body damage and busted rear window

      He asked for verification from the appraiser from my insurance company before any work was started, and explained the shop needed this info because there have been changes to what insurance policies will cover because of the high incidence of Kia thefts. I called Pat to let him know.

    22. The next day, the insurance appraiser who looked at my car emailed the mechanic a statement of the damages they would cover — the total was $6,563, which I hoped matched the mechanic’s quote that I had yet to see.
    23. Today, Pat said he’d give me an update when he hears anything. Payment was sent, so it’s mostly a waiting game. My rental extends for 30 days until March 17, so hopefully I will get to a resolution before then.

Time Spent:

    • Figuring out and admitting my car was stolen: 15 minutes
    • Crying: 30 minutes
    • Emotional support phone calls: 2 hours
    • Dealing with insurance company: 2 hours
    • Collecting all paperwork for insurance company: 2 hours
    • Getting a rental car: 1.5 hours
    • Getting a police release form: 2 hours
    • Waiting for my car to be located: 12 days
    • Waiting for repairs: 25+ days

Total Time Spent: 12ish hours
Total Time Waiting: 25+ days


    • Insurance deductible: $750
    • Ubers: $100
    • Car rental: $150 deposit, $102 for taxes for 30 days
    • Online notary: $25
    • Certified Mail: $3.75
    • My insurance claim ran $5,663

Total Costs: $1,130 out of pocket + $6,563 covered by insurance for repairs, towing and rental

Total in hassle:

    • Organizing all of the paperwork to submit the claim and getting a notary
    • Missed an out-of-state funeral
    • Out of the way adventure to North Philly
    • Out-of-pocket costs
    • Future hassle: if the car isn’t repaired within the next month, then I will be making payments on a car I can’t use, and you can catch me on SEPTA.

Result: A general sense of defeat and the purchase of a new steering wheel club.

Takeaways: Invest in good insurance with a reputable company. My old company was difficult to ask questions of and had a complicated online interface. I was extremely lucky to have purchased a new insurance policy literally hours before my car was stolen.

Second, a car is just a car. I was carless for eight years, so the transition to public transit was not hard, especially since my home is close to transit. I you get your car stolen, by Kia Boyz or another charming form of thief, and you do not live near transit, get a rental right away. Apparently, it’s covered!

Lastly, it can always be worse. Talk to the people in line with you at the police recovery center, and you may find that your luck isn’t so bad.

Lightning Bolt Rating (out of five):

Don’t recommend getting your car stolen, but Pat is awesome and I cried only once. Two stars taken off because I was entirely confused by the police release form location and process. It could definitely be virtual, and you are asking people to go way out of their way when their car was stolen.


The disassembled steering column, a calling card for Kia Boyz

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