TikTok trend causes an abrupt spike in car thefts in Omaha

Car theft is on the rise in Omaha, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your vehicle.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 6:53 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A new spike in car thefts is leaving many wondering if they’ll be the next victim. It’s become a big problem in Omaha and all across the nation.

Like most of us, Sean Traver doesn’t like getting into a cold car. So, he lets it warm up before taking his son to school.

“I lock my doors so nobody can get into it and go back in my house and gather up my son and stuff,” Traver said.

But earlier this week, a thief struck at just the right time. Traver unlocked his SUV while in his house, walked out the door, and his vehicle was gone.

“You see this happening way too often it’s disappointing is how I felt.”

His Ring camera captured someone getting into his 2005 Chevy Suburban. He says nearby surveillance showed the thief speeding off through his neighborhood street and running a stop sign.

Tyler Keith with the Omaha Police Department said it’s a growing issue in Omaha.

“We’ve been increasing patrols throughout the city for police officers to look out for car theft suspects,” Keith said.

In the last week alone there have been more than 70 reports of motor vehicle theft, according to the Omaha Police Department’s crime mapping page.

Keith said the trouble started in July and just kept going.

In the second half of 2022, we saw an increase mainly due to the increase of Kias and Hyundais being stolen.”

They blame the TikTok challenge which taught people how to steal those brands of cars using a screwdriver and a charging cable.

By the time the year ended, OPD saw a 16% jump in auto thefts compared to 2021 with more than 3,300 stolen.

Traver still doesn’t have his SUV back but he’s just glad he and his son are safe.

“He could’ve been waiting for me to try to grab my keys for all I know,” Traver said.

However, Keith said there are many ways you can prevent your car from getting stolen when you are out and about.

One of those is always making sure your car is locked and parking your car in a well-lit area or inside a garage. He also advised in cold temperatures make sure you don’t leave your car unattended while it’s running.