Police Issue Warning to Kia and Hyundai Drivers After Surge In Thefts Across Cook County

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A social media challenge has led to a surge of thefts of some Kia and Hyundai vehicles in Cook County, with authorities saying such crimes have risen a startling 767%.

Hundreds of people in Cook County had their Hyundai or Kia vehicles stolen this summer, including a suburban man whose car was stolen right in front of his house.

“They were able to pretty much damage the whole front end of the vehicle,” said Raymond Taylor. “You see the damage to the tires, rear wheels, bumper and radiator everything. I mean, this type of damage will probably cost you anywhere between $5,000 at a body shop to fix.”

Surveillance video captured the thieves in action outside his Calumet City home. Taylor said they busted his rear passenger side window and hotwired his car in less than two minutes.

“This was how the vehicle was found when it was stolen when it was basically in the alley,” he said. “It was found with this USB inside of it exactly like this.”

Taylor told NBC 5 police said his stolen vehicle was involved in a chase 15 minutes after it was stolen from the front of his house.

"It's very hurtful, and I mean especially with the financial toll that it's going to take to get this type of stuff back in order, it’s pretty much damaging to you," he said.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office said since July 1, there have been 642 Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts reported. Around this time last year, the office received 74 reports.

“The TikTok challenge is just basically teaching people how to do it, which is pretty crazy,” said Roe Conn, Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.

The sheriff’s office said thieves have been targeting vehicles that require a physical key to start, like Taylor’s 2016 Kia Optima.

“It’s a really significant situation for Kia and Hyundai owners right now, and the manufactures does need to do something here they need to address this issue,” said Conn.

The sheriff’s office is encouraging owners to protect their vehicles by installing anti-theft devices, including kill switches and steering wheel locks, car alarms with motion detection and vehicle tracking systems to try to deter the criminals.

“It’s not worth it no more because it’s not safe, and I don’t feel like I should be driving or my woman should be driving this is not safe,” Taylor said.

The sheriff’s office said car owners can also fill out a consent form online that way police can access data location information for your vehicle if its reported stolen. You can also put a sticker on your car letting would be criminals know that your vehicle is being tracked by the sheriff’s office.

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