Mar 24, 2023 - News

Car thefts on the rise in Richmond

Reproduced from USAFacts; Chart: Axios Visuals

After two years of decline, car thefts in Richmond are on the rise again.

Driving the news: Major cities — from Atlanta to Chicago — saw a rise in car thefts from 2019 to 2022, according to new data from USAFacts, a nonprofit that analyzes government data.

By the numbers: There were 468,821 total thefts reported in 2022 across all the cities reviewed by the USAFacts data.

  • That's much higher than in 2021 (411,935 reported thefts), 2020 (361,550) and 2019 (318,467).

A number of these thefts were of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Thieves across America are stealing those vehicles in seconds because of design flaws.

  • Thieves will break windows and remove parts of the steering column cover, then start the vehicle with a screwdriver or a plugin from a USB device.
  • The tactic became known from a recent challenge on TikTok, which encouraged thieves to target the vehicles.

In the city of Richmond, there were 1,207 car thefts reported in 2022, compared to 1,018 in 2021, 1,160 in 2020 and 1,192 in 2019.

Zoom in: 22 Kia or Hyundai vehicles were stolen in Richmond in December, accounting for 19% of all cars stolen. In June, it was 3%, per USAFacts.

  • Henrico County has received 37 reports of stolen Kia or Hyundai vehicles since January — double the thefts it saw during what the department called a "spree" last August and September.
  • And Chesterfield said it too is seeing an increase in these thefts, but in smaller numbers, with nine Kia or Hyundai vehicles stolen since January. Chesterfield police have recovered seven of these vehicles stolen from other jurisdictions, though.
  • Richmond police did not respond to a request for 2023 data.

What they're saying: Henrico County Police are encouraging owners of these models to update their car's anti-theft software — and invest in a very low-tech solution by picking up a wheel lock, like The Club.

What's next: Kia and Hyundai both released new "theft deterrent software" for more than 8 million vehicles in response to the trend.

  • TikTok said in a statement to the Washington Post that it "does not condone this behavior which violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform."

Go deeper: Thieves are stealing Hyundais and Kias in seconds.


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