Warning to KIA Drivers – Recent Spike in Thefts May Be Tied to TikTok Videos

Seattle police believe a recent spike in Kia car thefts may be tied to a TikTok tutorial.

In July, police investigated 36 reports of stolen Kias (compared to five in July 2021) and believe suspects may be using a method learned from TikTok, using a USB drive or cable and other tools, in place of a key, to start a vehicle. The vehicles stolen in July—Kia models Optima, Soul, Sorrento, Forte, and Sportage—were all manufactured between 2014 and 2021.

Earlier this month, police arrested two teens after receiving a report that several suspects driving a Kia—which police later discovered was stolen—had pulled up on a residential street in northwest Capitol Hill and tried to steal a second Kia.

Officers quickly arrived at the scene and spotted the suspects, who sped away and crashed into a fence in the 900 block of East Newton Street.

The three occupants of the Kia fled on foot, but officers caught up to two of them—a 17-year-old boy, who was carrying a loaded ghost gun, assembled from a firearm kit sold online—and a16-year-old boy.

Officers arrested the two teens for unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen vehicle.

In a separate incident weeks earlier, on July 21st, officers recovered a stolen Kia in South Seattle and found evidence linking the theft to the same 16-year-old from the Capitol Hill incident. Police learned the 16-year-old had reportedly learned to steal Kias from a series of videos on TikTok.

While investigators have made several arrests tied to recent Kia thefts, police continue to receive reports of stolen Kias throughout Seattle and recommend Kia owners take care to park in well-lit or secure areas when possible. Steering wheel locks and after-market ignition kill-switch systems can also be effective deterrents against theft.