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Series of local break-ins linked to social media ‘challenge’
Theft from vehicle graphic
Illustration of car theft - photo by Stock photo

Hinesville police may have squashed a social media sensation that reached Hinesville — and led to attempted auto thefts.

Hinesville Police Chief Lloyd Slater announced last week the last suspect in a series of car break-ins targeting Kias and Hyundais, under what had been known as the Kia Boys TikTok challenge.

It started about two years ago in Milwaukee, Chief Slater said, when a group of tech-savvy teens discovered they could break the steering column of a Kia or Hyundai and could hot-wire the vehicle to start.

While how they accomplished their crime wasn’t always shown on social media videos, there were clips of them driving recklessly around town with their stolen vehicles.

“That started trending on TikTok,” he said. “They don’t post the crimes online. But if you search for Kia Boys or Kia Boys online, you will see some of the antics.”

It spread to Columbus, Ohio, eventually, and even Statesboro reported 66 such incidents.

“It became a thing. We are now feeling the effects of it here,” Chief Slater said.

Most of the boys involved in thefts are between 12 and 15, too young to possess a driver’s license. The HPD made several arrests in local incidents.

Chief Slater said the best ways for Kia and Hyundai owners to protect their cars are through a software update for the car or a steering wheel immobilizer.

“One of the best things you can do is get a steering wheel lock,” he said.

Also, with the Christmas shopping season at hand, there may be more auto break-ins of all makes and models. The HPD reported 23 entering auto incidents in October, and in most of those cases, suspects were looking for firearms, cash or narcotics.

Chief Slater advised residents to lock their vehicles and recommended purchasing a camera, such as a terrain camera or deer camera, and have it mounted and pointed at your vehicles.

“It helps a great deal if you can catch anyone near your vehicle and share that information with us,” he said.

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