Car theft is a significant problem in many parts of the United States, and it continues to be a concern for law enforcement agencies, communities, and vehicle owners. In the past, financial motivations were the primary driving force behind car theft in the United States. However, a recent statement from the New York Police Department has highlighted a concerning trend: a viral TikTok challenge is now encouraging young individuals to engage in joyrides by hijacking Kia and Hyundai vehicles. This alarming trend has led to a nearly 19% increase in car thefts this year.
“We have seen double-digit increases-it’s simply not acceptable,” Police Commissioner Edward Caban said during a news conference.
According to police data, there have been a total of approximately 10,600 car thefts in the five boroughs this year, marking an increase from around 9,000 during the same period last year.
“Car thefts were up about 25 percent in August compared with the same month last year,” an official said.
“Most of us know someone who has had their car stolen,” Caban continued. “We understand that for those who have unfortunately experienced this crime, it is an invasion of your space. Our vehicles are often extensions of ourselves and of our homes.”
According to the New York Times, officials blamed the increase on TikTok videos showing how to steal Kias and Hyundais, the models that are stolen in close to a fifth of the thefts. Many videos give step-by-step instructions on how to start the car without a key.
The NYPD targets young thieves:
The police will assign a dedicated patrol car to each precinct to actively track stolen vehicles. Notably, officials have reported that half of those arrested in connection with these car thefts were teens under the age of 18.
Mayor Adams said this move will give the NYPD “great tools to be used to identify stolen vehicles that are on the road.”
Additionally, law enforcement officers are slated to receive additional training to address the rising issue of car thefts.