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TikTok car theft ‘challenge’ is a crime, Asheville police warn

By Gracee Mattiace

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Asheville police are warning car owners about a nationwide TikTok trend that teaches teens how to steal cars, as it has made its way to Western North Carolina.

Asheville Police Department has a message for anyone who is thinking about using the trend to commit crimes.

“While they may see it as a challenge and something fun, this absolutely affects the livelihood of people in the community that it work for a living and really rely on their cars to get back-and-forth and do things that you do for the family,” APD Capt. Sean Aardema said Thursday, Aug. 3.

Aardema said four cars were stolen last weekend in Montford and then abandoned in the Southside area.

The stolen vehicles were taken from neighbors within eyesight of each other, and all were recovered from the same apartment community.

“I know that it’s popularly referred to as a challenge. We don’t necessarily see it that way; we see it as a tutorial,” Aardema said.

He also said catching car thieves can be dangerous.

“The problem that we run into is the persons that we are investigating may be related to this, and they, unfortunately, drive fairly recklessly once they steal the vehicle. That’s something that our patrol officers have to be mindful of,” Aardema said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than eight million Kias and Hyundais could be vulnerable, but the theft can be prevented.

A free software update on these vehicles extends the car alarm from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn on the vehicle.

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