CMPD: More than 2,000% increase in theft of Kia and Hyundai cars in Charlotte in 2023

According to police, more than 60% of cars stolen this year are Kia or Hyundai.
According to police, more than 60% of cars stolen this year are Kia or Hyundai.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 6:53 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say auto thefts are up 142% in 2023, and 60% of the cars stolen are Kias or Hyundais.

Stats show theft of Kias and Hyundais is up more than 2,000% compared to the same time last year.

Police have said these thefts stem from the viral challenges on TikTok, like the Kia Challenge, which teaches people how to steal these cars.

Kaela Strickland is in Charlotte visiting a friend and parked her Kia Optima outside of her friend’s home on Garden District Drive near First Ward Park.

She says she did not expect to walk out to her car on Monday and see the window smashed.

“I’m trying to stay calm and think of like what actually happened,” Strickland said.

She quickly realized someone tried to steal her car.

“I went around to my driver seat and under my steering wheel was completely destroyed like it’s wires hanging out where I put my key in the ignition,” she said.

In this incident, the thief did not succeed, but that’s not always the case.

“We’re looking at 20 cars stolen every day in the city of Charlotte,” CMPD Lt. Kevin Pietrus told WBTV.

Lt. Pietrus says this time last year, they were investigating about eight stolen cars each day.

These crimes are happening everywhere.

“Across all 13 of our divisions, every corner of our city, everywhere in between,” he said.

If you drive one of these cars, CMPD recommends you should contact your dealership for a security software update and buy other safety tools.

“Utilize a steering wheel lock or a club,” he said. “These are tools that were popular many decades ago, but now we’re seeing a resurgence of them.”

Strickland says it’s an inconvenience, but a precaution she’s now forced to consider.

“It is scary, but I mean just that time that we’re in, I guess we just have to adjust honestly,” she said.

CMPD is also urging parents to monitor social media use and supervise their children.

Earlier this year, police said juveniles were responsible for more than 60% of all auto thefts.