Police condemn TikTok’s car theft trends as children aged 10+ steal vehicles

TikTok logo on phoneUnsplash: Olivier Bergeron

Police have reported that children as young as ten have been breaking into vehicles as a result of viral TikTok trends which encourage people to steal cars, including the viral Kia Boys trend.

Short-form video platform TikTok has seen a number of dangerous or illegal trends go viral over the years, with things like the ‘Devious Lick’ challenge generating a huge amount of controversy online.

The Kia Boys trend is one that has been prompting backlash throughout 2022, as thieves target certain models of 2010-2021 Hyundai and Kia cars which use a mechanical key, not a key fob and push-button, to start.

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A number of videos about the trend have gone viral on TikTok, including from people who have been a victim of the viral trend showing the aftermath.

It has been reported that children as young as ten are participating in the challenge, leading to an influx of concern from parents and authorities. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told CNBC: “The viral nature of how this has taken off on social media — it’s accelerated this like we’ve never seen. [The perpetrators are] doing it in 20 to 30 seconds. It literally is as old-fashioned as you can imagine.”

He went on to add that the thieves are mostly young teens, saying: “We had an 11-year-old who was one of our most prolific stealers … the notion that they can drive is a fantasy.”

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On October 1, Port News reported that children as young as 10 years old have been leading police in Australia on chases after stealing cars and filming them for TikTok as part of a similar car theft trend that’s gaining traction on the platform, with people breaking into homes to steal car keys.

District Commander Detective Superintendent Shane Cribb of the Mid North Coast Police said: “These are potentially-lethal choices made by children. These children do not have the training, the skills, or the experience to be in charge of a motor vehicle.

“The risk these children pose to all road users is incalculable: in the hands of these children, a motor vehicle becomes a potential weapon.”

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TikTok’s community guidelines state: “We do not permit users to share content depicting, promoting, normalizing or glorifying dangerous acts that may lead to serious injury or death.”

They also specify that users should not post, upload, stream, or share “Content that depicts dangerous driving behavior,” among a number of other things.