Recently there has been a massive surge in automobile thefts in Austin. Some of the stolen vehicles have been linked to a "TikTok Challenge," initiated by a group calling themselves the "Kia Boyz." If you plan on traveling from Killeen-Temple, Texas area, definitely lock your doors.

Apparently models of Kia and Hyundai manufactured between 2015-2019 have a major manufacturing flaw that allows thieves to simply bypass the ignition after breaking into the vehicle. The Kia Boyz started posting videos about how easy it was to take these models with minimal effort and little more than a USB cord on YouTube and TikTok.

Austin is now seeing a massive increase in car thefts according to this article with KXAN,

"Auto thefts have increased 13% from last year, and <a href="https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Police/Reports/Chief_Monthly/2023/05152023_Chief's%20Monthly%20Report%20-%20Apr%202023.pdf">data</a> shows there have been 1,979 since April."
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Is a TikTok video really behind the spike in Austin car thefts?

Partially, according to Austin Police, but those are mostly being done as pranks by juveniles. Another factor is at play according to the APD.

Many of these vehicles are being stolen to be used in other planned crimes. Austin Police Department officer Fancisco Jimenez shared,

“What we are seeing is a lot of stolen vehicles are being used in felonies across the board,” said Jimenez. “Whether that be robberies, aggravated assaults, homicides, burglaries.”

What else is contributing to the rise in crime?

The simplest answer is repeat offenders. Many people are recommitting thefts and felonies because they have been simply freed from jail to do so. During a recent press conference, KXAN reporters asked point blank if many of these repeat offenders were behind bars, would there be fewer car thefts?

APD Detective Julian Ogle responded, "I do believe that is the case."

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