SHELTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A TikTok trend has led to a spike in car thefts, as the viral videos show thieves how to break into Kias and Hyundais. This trend led to an uptick in thefts across the country, including in Connecticut.
In Shelton alone, six car thefts have been reported since Aug. 13 — five Hyundais and one Kia.
“Your security in your house is gone,” said Gary Basque, of Shelton. “It’s just not right.”
Basque told News 8 that his son was leaving for work on Saturday morning when he realized their car was missing. It had been stolen from their home and it’s yet to be recovered.
“Why can’t they stop the TikTok from being published?” he questioned. “Or go after the people that are publishing it?”
Most recently, Shelton police said officers responded to reports of a group of people attempting to break into vehicles near Coram Avenue and Hill Street just after midnight Monday.
Shelton police said the group was in a Hyundai, which had been reported stolen in another town. Officers then received word that a vehicle had been stolen in Shelton, police said.
Officers spotted the stolen car on the Derby/Shelton Bridge and connected it to a traffic stop, which led to the arrest of a 16-year-old boy from Ansonia. He faces charges of first-degree larceny, third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal trover, and operating a motor vehicle without a license.
“This is not a victimless crime,” said Lt. Robert Kozlowsky, of the Shelton Police Department. “It’s classified as a property crime, but it’s much more far-reaching than that. People are without their cars for days and weeks. People have to go to work, take their kids to events, people have to go to the grocery store. In cases when they get the cars back, insurance doesn’t always pay 100% of the bills, so they’re out of pocket.”
The teen told officers that TikTok videos demonstrating how to steal Hyundais and Kias prompted him to steal the vehicle in Shelton, according to police.
“TikTok does not condone this behavior which categorically violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform,” a TikTok spokesperson told News 8.
Kia America issued the following statement to News 8 regarding recent thefts:
Kia America remains concerned about the increase in auto thefts of a subset of Kia vehicles. It is unfortunate that criminals are using social media to target vehicles without engine immobilizers in a coordinated effort. All of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel key and “turn-to-start” ignition system. The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and “push-button-to-start” system, making them more difficult to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.
Kia America has provided steering wheel lock devices at no cost to law enforcement in affected areas to deter vandalism and theft. That effort will continue in close coordination with local police departments for distribution to concerned owners of Kia vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer.
Kia customers with questions regarding their specific vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance center directly at 1-800-333-4542(4Kia).
Hyundai Motor America also issued a statement:
Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles. While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media. Criminals are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021.
In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners. Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech / Compustar security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles.
Beginning October 1, 2022, this security kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. Hyundai will provide additional details soon, and customers who have questions can always contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151.
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA