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Troubling TikTok Trend Possible Reason For Rise in Car Thefts of Kia and Hyundai Models

Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 | 6:25 am

The number of car thefts involving Kia and Hyundai models in Pasadena have more than doubled over the past year. 

Although the Pasadena Police Department does not attribute this rise to a troubling TikTok challenge, which encourages the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles, other cities around the country which saw similar dramatic rise in car thefts have blamed Tiktok. 

Between January 1 and August 27, 2022, 38 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in Pasadena, according to numbers provided by the Pasadena Police Department. 

That is more than double the number of Kia and Hyundai thefts in the same period in 2021, which was reported to be 16.  

From January 1 and August 27 2020, eight Kia and Hyundai vehicles were reported stolen in Pasadena. 

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) issued a community alert in late August over a TikTok challenge that encourages the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

The viral challenge shows how the tip of a phone charger or USB cable can be used to start a stolen vehicle. 

Kia and Hyundai account for almost 20 percent of all vehicle thefts in LA this year, up from 13 percent last year, KTLA reported. 

LAPD said that the TikTok challenge is a factor in the increase in thefts. 

The LAPD also said Kia and Hyundai vehicles do not have an ignition immobilizer, an electronic device that prevents the engine from being started unless the correct key is present. Kia and Hyundai owners should also consider using a steering wheel locking device or installing an anti-theft system to deter such crimes, officials said. 

In the alert, the LAPD also provided some tips on preventing vehicle theft, such as making sure all doors and windows of the vehicle are locked, parking in a secure location or well-lit area, and installing a GPS tracking device. 

Similar Trend in Other Cities 

Out in Chicago, Kia and Hyundai model car thefts rose by a shocking 767 percent since the beginning of July compared to the same period in 2021, according to reporting by Dailymail.

Portland police said thefts of Hyundais are up 153 percent while Kias are up 269 percent from June 12 to August 20, compared to the previous 10-week period, KGW8 reported.  

While TikTok is known for its endless stream of dancing, cooking, lifestyle and comedy videos, some “TikTok challenges,” viral videos which encourage users to recreate them have led to injuries, criminal acts and in some cases, death.  

The #orbeezchallenge involved filling a toy gun with water beads and in some cases, these beads were frozen to make them harder and more painful when they come in contact with skin. 

Particularly dangerous was the Blackout challenge, which encouraged participants to hold their breath or strangulate themselves until they passed out, promising a “euphoric” feeling as a result, NBC said about the challenge. 

While this challenge has been around since the 90s, it resurfaced on TikTok in late 2021 and caused the death of multiple children. 

While Pasadena police said it has not identified reported crimes committed due to TikTok challenges, it encouraged parents to talk to their children about potential risks of social media trends. 

“Parents and educators should follow ‘See something, Say something,’” Pasadena Police Lt. Marcia Taglioretti said. “It’s important for parents/guardians to be more involved in the social media lives of their children; educate themselves regarding the latest social media trends and talk to their children about these issues and potential risks.” 

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