Many major cities in the United States are seeing massive increases in motor vehicle theft, according to a study by the Council on Criminal Justice. While not every city that reported data to the CCJ saw an increase in car theft, U.S. cities in the first half of 2023 saw a 33.5% increase on average, compared to the same timeframe last year.
Car theft has actually been increasing since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which is when theft began to surge, and it doesn't show signs of slowing down. Between January-June 2023, car theft is up 104.3% versus the same span in 2019.
Obviously, some cities have it worse than others. For instance, Rochester, New York saw a massive increase of 355% in the first half of 2023 versus 2020. However, St. Paul, Minnesota saw a decrease of 41%. Interestingly, some of the U.S.'s largest, most densely packed cities saw decreases in car theft, such as Denver, Phoenix, Boston, and even Los Angeles.
Why is car theft drastically on the rise? There are a number of factors, including post-pandemic economics. However, according to the CCJ, the Kia Boys actually played a significant part, though they aren't entirely to blame. "It is likely that much of this increase is the result of thefts of Kia and Hyundai models," the report said. "But rates were already trending upward before these vehicles became popular targets."
Earlier in the year, some thieving ne'er-do-wells learned that certain Hyundai and Kia models could be stolen pretty easily and it actually became a TikTok trend, with the hashtag "kiaboys." Due to the popularity of the TikTok trend, a shocking amount of Hyundai and Kia models were being stolen, so much so that many cities filed lawsuits against the brands. Both brands have since made software and hardware changes to their cars to help prevent such theft.
Without so many Hyundai and Kia models being stolen due to a social media trend, it's possible that we see a decrease in car theft for the second half 2023, versus the first half. While that certainly doesn't account for entire increase in car theft, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out and how cities plan to prevent theft from increasing further.
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