VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – There has been a significant increase in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in Visalia as a part of a social media trend, and the suspects have been identified as teenagers from 13 to 19 years old, according to the Visalia Police Department.
Officials announced on Wednesday that the vehicles being targeted are Kia models from 2011-2021 and Hyundai models from 2015-2021.
Officials say that the increase in theft is also a nationwide problem and has become a trend on social media platforms, and in the videos, they show how to steal these vehicles using a USB cable. The action just takes seconds to do, according to police.
The Visalia Police Department says that the suspects are usually groups of teenagers from the ages of 13 to 19 years old. One 19-year-old, two 17-year-olds, eight 16-year-old, four 15-year-olds, three 14-year-olds, and three 13-year-old boys and one girl have been arrested for auto theft in the past two months, and most of them have been arrested more than once, officials say.
Detectives say that the crimes usually happen between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. and that they usually go in groups of three or four, and if the vehicle is unlocked, they hot-wire it and drive off.
These are the measures that the Visalia Police Department would like to remind everyone to take to avoid car theft:
- Lock your doors
- Remove all keys from your vehicle
- Remove valuables from your vehicle.
- Close the windows
- Park in well-lit areas or near cameras
- Install an audible alarm system
- Install an anti-theft device (column collars, steering wheel locks, brake locks)
- Install a tracking device (Apple Airtags, Samsung SmartTags, Tile Mate GPS Tracker)
Kia and Hyundai have settled a $200 million consumer class-action lawsuit because of the crime targeting their vehicle, officials say. The Police Department encourages anyone that has been a victim of the crime to contact Hyundai at (200) 633-5151 or Kia at 800-333-4542
The police department also advises anyone to report any suspicious activity to 911 or to the non-emergency line at (559) 734-8117