Kia, Hyundai thefts skyrocket in Omaha as TikTok challenge goes viral

20 cars stolen or broken into this weekend alone
"It's got to stop. It's just got to stop."
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There’s a car theft epidemic in the Omaha-metro.

Thieves, most of them teens, are going after two specific brands of automobiles because of a social media challenge.

It may be classified as a property crime, but there’s no doubt it’s hitting victims hard.

The TikTok challenge first surfaced in Chicago and Milwaukee — a how-to when it comes to the ease of stealing a Kia or Hyundai by using a screwdriver and phone charging cable.

Based on Omaha Police reports, 20 cars stolen or broken into were counted this weekend alone.

Days ago, Joy Gibbs got a call from OPD: Her Kia Rio had been recovered. She was out of town for a funeral and didn’t even know it had been stolen.

“I do everything to take care of my car, and now to be violated because of a game — you do it because of a challenge? To get likes? What is that going to do for me?” Gibbs said.

Crystal had not one of her Kias broken into but two this weekend in front of her Omaha home.

“I can’t drive this one,” she said.

A car theft epidemic in the metro.

Omaha Police said they have seen the numbers of Kia and Hyundai car thefts skyrocket.

“The percentage increase in Omaha has been drastic: We were seeing 20-30 Kias and Hyundais stolen a month before this went viral. Last month we had 120 Kias & Hyundais that were stolen,” said Lt. Kyle Steffen of the OPD Auto Theft Unit.

That’s six times the normal car theft rate in Omaha.

The suspects — as young as age 11 — typically steal the car for joyriding, but that’s little consolation to the victims.

“How could someone be so shallow and uncaring? They’re not thinking about what they’re doing to people,” Gibbs said. “It’s not coming out of their pocket. It’s from the person who didn’t know they were targeted in the first place.”

Some victims nationwide have filed class action lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai for producing vehicles that are easy to steal.

What can you do?

If you own one of these cars experts suggest getting a steering wheel lock; if you can’t steer it, thieves won’t steal it.

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