Kia Boyz TikTok trend explained: 19% increase in car thefts as cops blame online challenge

Meera Jacka
Kia Boyz TikTok trend explained

Car thefts have surged this year with New York City seeing nearly a 19% annual increase. Police officials have now revealed they suspect a viral TikTok challenge is to blame.

New York City is currently facing a bizarre epidemic of car thefts that the Police Department suspects is the result of a viral TikTok challenge.

According to the New York Post, there has been an annual increase of nearly 19% in car thefts this year, with new statistics showing there were 24% more grand larceny auto reports in August 2023 compared to statistics for August 2022.

During a news conference, police officials revealed they believed this spike was due to a TikTok challenge that saw young viewers encouraged to hijack vehicles. And NYC has not been the only US city hit — so, what is the social media challenge sparking an epidemic across a nation?

What is the Kia Boyz TikTok trend?

TikTok thrived during the pandemic with the platform giving rise to various social media challenges, one being the “Kia Boyz” in late 2021.

The trend involved stealing Kias and Hyundais, with the name “Kia Boyz” referring not to a particular group but to various teenagers who all participated by using the same specific method.

The cars are not stolen for money or with the intention of keeping the vehicle, but rather for joyrides as a source of fun. In fact, many of the offenders are too young to hold a driver’s license.

This was made possible due to Kia’s cost-saving measures and a lack of regulations, with models manufactured anywhere between 2011 to 2021 proving to be easy targets.

The NYPD is now enacting a plan to equip certain police cruisers with license plate readers to spot stolen vehicles and tackle the continuous problem.

“We have seen double-digit increases — it’s simply not acceptable,” NYPD Police Commissioner Edward Caban said during a news conference surrounding the spike in car thefts. “There are some who think they can just steal a car in the city and get away with it, well, they are sadly mistaken.”

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