CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign Police Department is warning the community of a growing TikTok trend involving car break-ins and thefts following two incidents this week that were attributed to this trend.
Police officials said that videos made popular on TikTok are teaching would-be thieves how to enter and steal cars with limited tools or technical skill. The videos specifically target cars made by Kia between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundai between 2013 and 2021.
Officials added that while the trend has been circulating online since 2021, no incidents related to it were reported in Champaign until Wednesday.
A 2019 Hyundai Sonata was reported stolen at 8 a.m. on that day, but it was later recovered in the area of Bloomington Road and Prospect Avenue. Authorities found four juveniles in possession of the car and arrested them; an examination of the car revealed damage consistent with the social media trend.
Another incident was reported to Champaign Police later that day. The car, a 2016 Hyundai Elantra, was not stolen, but was damaged in a way that indicated an attempted theft.
Both of these cases remain under investigation.
“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.”
While Kia and Hyundai work toward a permanent solution to solving the problem, Champaign Police recommended that owners of these cars park them in a garage wherever possible. If parked outside, Champaign Police said owners should remove their valuables. Employing additional security measures, such as a steering wheel lock, is also encouraged.
Parents are also encouraged to talk to their teenage children about the dangers of following destructive internet trends and the consequences of doing so.
Car owners who have been victimized by this social media trend are encouraged to immediately report the incident to law enforcement. Champaign Police can be contacted by calling 217-351-4545, but thefts in progress should be reported to 9-1-1.