Was a TikTok challenge responsible for the increase in car thefts — Kia and Hyundai models in particular — in major cities across the US? To answer this question, USAFacts collected and analyzed data from dozens of police departments across the country.
In certain cities, we found a noticeable spike in Hyundai and Kia car thefts in June 2022, when the Kia Boys challenge began to go viral. The cities where the TikTok effect was more obvious were Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Cleveland; Dayton, Ohio; Louisville; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC.
It’s worth asking: did violent crime also increase in these cities?
The FBI’s Crime Data Explorer collects crime data from 18,000 US law enforcement agencies through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. However, since law enforcement agencies can choose whether or not to submit data to the program, it’s missing data from some major metropolitan areas. In 2021, the FBI received data from 11,794 (63%) out of 18,806 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
In particular, police departments from Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Louisville, and Omaha did not submit violent crime data for 2021, 2022, or both. We excluded these cities from our analysis, leaving only Cleveland, Dayton, Portland, and Seattle.
The verdict for those cities?
In Dayton and Seattle, violent crime rose 10% and 2% respectively. However, in Cleveland and in Portland, violent crime dropped by 16% in Cleveland and 11% in Portland.
While the spottiness of FBI violent crime data makes it tough to generalize, cities with increased Hyundai and Kia car thefts did not necessarily have corresponding rises in violent crime.