In a startling revelation, fresh FBI data has unveiled a shocking 20% surge in car thefts nationwide over the past year, raising serious concerns about the safety of our vehicles. This alarming increase comes as a vehicle safety rating agency highlights certain car models from Dodge, Land Rover, and BMW as prime targets for criminals.
The FBI’s annual crime report, released just this Monday, paints a grim picture of our nation’s security, with a staggering 721,852 car thefts reported in 2022. This number represents a concerning rise from 2021’s 601,453 incidents and an even more dramatic spike from the 2020 figure of 420,952, recorded during the onset of the pandemic.
Unveiling the top 10 most-stolen cars, the Highway Loss Data Institute delved into 2020 to 2022 car models and uncovered some shocking revelations. Among the notorious names on the list, three Dodge muscle cars and two Kias made a regrettable appearance.
Topping the list as the most frequently targeted vehicle in 2022 was the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. With an astonishing 6,128 theft claims last year, this high-performance car, retailing from $81,040 for a 2022 model, unfortunately became a top attraction for criminals. Following closely behind was the more affordable Dodge Charger HEMI, implicated in 2,197 theft claims.
Infiniti’s Q50 midsize sedan claimed the third position with 878 claims, while another Dodge model, the classic Challenger, secured the fourth spot with 766 theft incidents in 2022. Notably, the high-end Land Rover’s Range Rover 4dr 4WD, starting at a princely $95,150, also had its share of troubles with 611 theft claims.
The list’s remainder showcased the persistence of theft crimes, with two additional Kia models, the Sportage 4dr and Sportage 4dr 4WD, making an appearance. Joining them were the Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport 4dr 4WD and BMW’s X6 4dr 4WD, along with one Honda CR-V SUV, completing the notorious top 10.
Intriguingly, these troubling statistics have caught the attention of law enforcement agencies and experts alike. Some have attributed the rise in car thefts to a viral TikTok challenge that encourages young individuals to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles for joyrides, an alarming trend dubbed “performance crime.”
Viral videos on the social media platform have been teaching people how to start these cars using USB cables and exploiting security vulnerabilities in select models sold in the US, which lack engine immobilizers—a standard feature in most cars since the 1990s, preventing the engine from starting without the key.
Although Hyundai has made efforts to collaborate with TikTok and other platforms to remove these videos, new ones continue to surface, leading to fresh waves of thefts across the country.
Recent NYPD statistics have highlighted the severity of the situation, showing a shocking 24% increase in grand larceny auto reports in August compared to the same month in 2022. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also pointed fingers at this trend for at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities, a number that lawyers suing the carmakers argue is likely much higher.
Furthermore, police departments in several cities have reported an increase in juvenile arrests and charges related to car thefts, a concerning trend attributed to these motor vehicle-related performance crimes.
Despite the troubling rise in car thefts, criminology experts warn against making hasty conclusions, suggesting that the involvement of teenagers in these crimes, which began during the pandemic, may be artificially inflating the statistics due to their inexperience.
Nevertheless, one thing is clear: this situation underscores the dangers of social media content seeking viral fame.
The consequences of this crime wave have been nothing short of tragic. In Milwaukee, a stolen Kia collided with a school bus, leaving a 15-year-old in critical condition. Four 14-year-olds, one of whom was allegedly behind the wheel, were later arrested in connection with the incident.
As the nation grapples with this car theft epidemic, calls for accountability have been directed at automakers. MLG Attorneys at Law, a California-based law firm specializing in automotive defect lawsuits, has reported receiving over 4,000 inquiries from victims seeking justice.
In conclusion, the alarming surge in car thefts demands urgent attention and action from both law enforcement agencies and automakers. With criminals finding new and innovative ways to exploit vehicle vulnerabilities, it is imperative that steps are taken to enhance vehicle security and protect the safety of our communities.