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CMPD reports dozens of Hyundai & Kia thefts linked to viral TikTok 'challenge'

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say thieves are targeting Hyundai and Kia cars to steal and take on joyrides.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte woman says she wants to help prevent anyone else from falling victim to the latest TikTok challenge by sharing her story of how she says thieves stole her Hyundai when it was parked outside her apartment.

Police say it's a part of a trend where teens film themselves stealing Hyundai and Kia car models before posting about the crime online.

Rachel Bestman said she was getting ready for work when she noticed her car was missing from her east Charlotte apartment. She eventually tracked it down at a nearby tow company that told her the car was found abandoned at another nearby apartment complex. Bestman said maintenance crews at that complex shared how they caught a glimpse of the suspected thieves.

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“He said four males between the ages of 12 and 14 were dangling, like hanging from my car doors like jungle gyms," she said, "and when he approached the car they all fled."

The suspects left the car with two busted tires and an ignition that was torn apart.

“That car was my new beginning, so it’s a loss," Bestman said.

As the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department investigated her stolen car, Bestman learned she wasn't the only victim. Police say in that same week. there were 60 other reported car thefts all seemingly related to the Hyundai/ Kia stolen car challenge.

“It’s literally they’re destroying your property for a five-minute joyride," Bestman said.

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Stolen Car Prevention

To help keep your property protected, police recommend locking your car doors, avoid leaving spare keys in easy reach and staying aware of your surroundings. 

“Everyone thinks they aren’t going to be a victim until they are," CMPD Detective William Wallace said.  "You take simple steps like don’t leave your vehicle running, don’t park in dark areas or shady areas. Park in well-lit areas with video surveillance and people around.”

Police say steering wheel locks or clubs can also be a good crime deterrent, but it's important that these tools are installed properly with the steering wheel fully turned and locked.

“When a suspect is looking inside they’re going to see that and right away most of the time they’re going to walk right past your vehicle," CMPD Detective Jonathan Campbell said.

Stealing a car is a felony crime. So far, police say no arrests have been made in this case.

Bestman organized a GoFundMe page to collect donations in the hopes of eventually being able to afford a new car.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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