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Is a Tik Tok challenge to blame for an uptick in car thefts in Jerome?

Posted at 6:05 PM, May 30, 2024

JEROME, Idaho — On Tuesday, the Jerome Police Deartment posted a warning to owners of Kias and Hyundais that the department had seen a spike in thefts of these vehicles. That very morning, our Idaho News 6 vehicle had been stolen in Twin Falls, and recovered in Jerome.

  • This year, JPD has seen 14 vehicles reported stolen. Six of them were Kias or Hyundais.
  • An additional six vehicles that were not stolen have shown evidence of attempts to break in, JPD says, using similar techniques.
  • Model years targeted are 2011-2021, and the department urges owners to consider additional theft prevention measures.
  • Anyone who sees suspicious activity is encouraged to call in a report to (208) 324-1911.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

On Tuesday morning, my Idaho News 6 work vehicle was stolen.

“And there are the videos, unfortunately, out there that gives us knowledge of how juveniles even adults can do this,” Captain Anthony Gratzer of the Jerome Police Department told Idaho News 6. “And unfortunately, I think it's certain effect and hit our area currently.”

Later that day, the Jerome Police Department posted a warning to their Facebook page alerting people who owned Kias and Hyundais that they could fall prey to a Tik Tok trend.

A post on JPD's Facebook page warns owners of Kias and Hyundais of a spike in thefts

"The Tik Tok trend happens to be those vehicles specifically,” Gratzer said. “There is knowledge that both companies had put out to owners of those saying that there is an issue."

Captain Gatzer told me that of 14 vehicle thefts they've seen this year — including atvs and side-by-sides — 6 of those were kias or hyundais from 2011 through 2022 model years.

“There's another six as well that we think we're attempted to be stolen. Just never were they remained,” Gratzer said. “But there was the damage that kind of falls with that Tik Tok trend."

In 2023, Hyundai and Kia offered theft deterrent software upgrades to owners of vehicles that had the vulnerability thieves can take advantage of.

My work vehicle was recovered later that same morning, found by the Jerome Police Department. It had been dumped, and unlike some of the other cars they've recovered, it didn't look like it had been driven through a farm field.

“For the most part of ours almost appear to be more of a joyride to see if they can do it,” Gratzer said.” Which leaves us thinking probably a juvenile or even some younger adults, or ... potentially you could have older adults that want to see if this Tik Tok trend works.”

Tow truck driver Brian Walker said he's seen a surge for sure.

“I've towed three of them and in the last week and a half and they all look the same,” Walker said. “I mean somebody's somebody knows how to get into them and they're just doing what they want with them and they're leaving them.”

“One preventative measure is definitely the clubs on your vehicle.,” Gratzer said. “If you have it kept in the garage make sure the garage door is locked things like that will prevent so it's not the easy access.”