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Rising Wave of Car Thefts in NYC: Unmasking the Kia and Hyundai Challenge

Despite repeated warnings from law enforcement and recent software upgrades, the rate of thefts involving Kias and Hyundais remains alarmingly high. The genesis of this trend can be traced back to a social media challenge, particularly affecting one borough in New York City.

As of 2023, the number of car thefts has surged across all boroughs, surpassing the figures from the same period last year. Although incidents of murder, robbery, and burglary have decreased compared to 2022, April witnessed a staggering 37% increase in grand larceny auto reports, totaling 1,283 cases. In April 2022, there were 939 reports, indicating a substantial uptick of 344 incidents.

The Bronx, in particular, has experienced a notable spike in car thefts, surpassing all other NYC boroughs in reported incidents. The question arises: What is fueling this surge? Law enforcement attributes it to the impact of social media and the hectic nature of people’s lives.

Surveillance footage illustrates how swiftly a car can be stolen when the driver momentarily leaves it running to complete a task. One such unfortunate incident involved Karla Posas, whose son’s Honda was stolen by a teenager while he delivered food. Despite the short duration inside, the car was taken in an instant, leaving Posas lamenting, “It’s more than a vehicle; it’s something you work for. You pay for it.”

According to the NYPD, nearly half of all stolen cars belong to three specific brands: Kia, Hyundai, and Honda. Lieutenant Daniel Gallagher explains, “Thieves like particular cars. If they can find a way to steal that car, they will continue to steal that car.”

Chief of Patrol John Chell reveals a concerning statistic, stating that there are 500 more cases of car thefts this year compared to the previous year. Chell emphasizes the city’s current struggle with crime, specifically highlighting the prevalence of stolen Kias and Hyundais.

Law enforcement attributes the surge in car thefts to “Kia Challenge” videos circulating on social media, coupled with the risky practice of leaving cars running during brief errands. Gallagher notes, “It’s normally younger teens that are stealing them and basically driving them around the neighborhood for joyriding.”

Police are urging community support and encouraging Kia owners to contact the company for a free anti-crime upgrade. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of never leaving a car running with keys inside. Despite a high rate of recovery for stolen cars, owners often face hefty repair bills as the vehicles are frequently damaged by the thieves.

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