TikTok challenge sparks rampant car theft – Reuters

The Chicago area alone saw a 767% increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts thanks to the challenge, police say

A car theft challenge on TikTok that has gone viral in recent weeks has caused a massive increase in vehicle thefts in the Chicago area. The videos, released under the hashtag « Kia Boyz », teach TikTok users how to steal older types of Hyundai and Kia cars using only the tip of a phone charger or USB cable.

According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, between July 1 and mid-August of this year, some 642 thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles were reported stolen in the area, compared to just 74 at the same time last year. . The crime wave affects vehicles that lack immobilizers and require mechanical keys to start.

« Vehicle theft has increased by 767% due to a new TikTok challenge », the Chicago Police Department’s 15th District said in an advisory. « This challenge is game by game [sic] for young adults on how to steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles. These auto thefts are a crime of opportunity and can affect just about any member of the community.

Police have urged Kia and Hyundai owners to stay « alert, » always remove their keys from the ignition when the vehicle is not in use and try to park it in a “well trafficked area and well lit area.”

Earlier this week, the social media giant condemned the car theft challenge, promising to take action on its own « guidelines. »

« We absolutely do not condone these types of videos and it is something that is removed from our platforms. We use a combination of technology and dedicated security teams to ensure our content meets TikTok community guidelines. », the company told local media in a statement.

A sharp increase in Kia and Hyundai car thefts has also been reported in other parts of the United States. The trend appears to be coming from Milwaukee, where in 2021 vehicle theft increased year-over-year by 2,500%. According to local police, 66% of thefts last year involved cars produced by the two companies, both of which are controlled by Hyundai Motor Group.

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