Champaign Police See Vehicle Stolen in Social Media Trend

Community Advised of Recent Vehicle Break-in, Theft in Champaign

The Champaign Police Department wishes to alert the community to a recent vehicle theft and another break-in that appear to be related to a growing social media trend. Cities across the nation have issued warnings in recent months about videos that teach would-be thieves how to quickly enter and steal vehicles with limited tools or technical skill. Specifically, the videos target Kia vehicles manufactured from 2011 to 2021, and Hyundai vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2021.

The videos, made popular through social media app TikTok, feature a person forcibly entering a Kia or Hyundai before utilizing this technique to bypass the ignition. While this trend has been circulating online since 2021, only this week has the Champaign Police Department been made aware of these incidents occurring locally.

Champaign Police were dispatched at 7:56 a.m. on March 8, 2023, for a report of a stolen vehicle. The vehicle, a 2019 Hyundai Sonata, was located in the 800-block of Bloomington Road by Champaign Police on the evening of March 9, 2023. With assistance from Illinois State Police, Champaign Police arrested four juvenile subjects who were found in possession of the vehicle. In examining the recovered car, it exhibited damage indicative of the social media trend. Additionally, a report of a vehicle break-in was received on March 8, 2023, related to a 2016 Hyundai Elantra. While this vehicle was not stolen, it was damaged in a specific way that indicated that a theft was attempted. Both cases remain under investigation.

While manufacturers work toward a permanent solution to this issue, Champaign Police recommend that owners of these vehicles park them in a garage wherever possible and remove all valuables from the vehicles if they are left outside. Employing additional security measures, such as a steering wheel lock, is also encouraged.

Parents are encouraged to talk to their teens about the dangers of following destructive internet trends and the consequences of doing so. Individuals found engaging in these activities could face criminal charges.

“This is not some teenage prank,” said Chief of Police Timothy T. Tyler. “It is a felony act that affects real people in our community. Individuals who engage in this behavior could injure themselves or others, and could permanently damage their futures with a criminal record that will follow them for years to come.”

Champaign residents who have been victimized by this trend are encouraged to immediately report the incident to police by calling 217-351-4545. To report a theft in-progress, residents are encouraged to contact 9-1-1.