SEATTLE — Police believe a recent spike in Kia vehicle thefts throughout Seattle could be tied to a series of videos shared on TikTok.
The Seattle Police Department investigated 36 reports of stolen Kia's this July, up from five in July 2021. Investigators believe suspects may be using a method learned from TikTok that involves using a USB drive, cable or other tools in place of a key to start a vehicle.
Police said Kia models Optima, Soul, Sorrento, Forte and Sportage were stolen throughout the city in July. The vehicles were manufactured between 2014 and 2021, according to police.
Two teens were arrested earlier this month after reports of several suspects driving a stolen Kia. Investigators said the suspects were on a residential street in northwest Capitol Hill when they tried to steal a second Kia.
Police said three suspects in the car fled from officers but two were eventually caught. A 17-year-old boy carrying a loaded "ghost gun" assembled from a firearm kit sold online and a 16-year-old boy were arrested, authorities said. The two teens were arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen vehicle.
In a separate case, police found 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 reportedly learned to steal Kias through watching TikTok videos.
Investigators have made several arrests tied to recent Kia thefts in the city. Authorities recommend owners of Kia vehicles to park in well-lit or secure areas when possible. Steering wheel locks and after-market ignition kill-switch can be deterrents against theft.
TikTok released the following statement:
"TikTok does not condone this behavior which categorically violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform."