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Major Cities Reported Big Rise In Auto Thefts Between 2019 and 2022

Car thefts are on the rise across multiple cities nationwide and a recent social media trend may be to blame. Major cities across the U.S., including Milwaukee, Cleveland and Chicago, saw a significant rise in car thefts from 2019 to 2022, according to new data from USAFacts. Many are pointing to a TikTok trend showing how to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles. The data come from 500 police departments with the most vehicle thefts in the last five years, Axios reports. About one-fifth of those departments had data for 2022. USAFacts combined the data with data from the FBI, as well as statewide data for 10 states. Kia and Hyundai thefts surged in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle and Baltimore. In Cleveland, 67% of reported car thefts in December 2022 were of Kias or Hyundais. Cities such as San Francisco, San Diego and Fort Worth, Tx. saw thefts stay closer to average theft numbers.


There were 468,821 thefts reported in 2022 across all the cities included in the USAFacts data. That's much higher than in 2021 (411,935 reported thefts), as well as in 2020 (361, 550) and 2019 (318,467). Thefts in some areas jumped 400% from 2019 to 2022, while others rose by at least 100%. Thieves are stealing Hyundais and Kias in seconds, using design flaws in the cars. Thieves break windows and remove parts of the steering column cover, then start the vehicle with a screwdriver, or a plugin from a USB device. Knowledge of this tactic came from a recent challenge on TikTok. Kia and Hyundai both released new "theft deterrent software" for more than 8 million vehicles in response to the trend.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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