Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has written to social media companies, asking them to take down these posts
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Cook County Sheriff's officer approaches an abandoned Kia vehicle on the expressway. He quickly determines it was stolen.
It's the latest in what authorities say is an alarming trend of stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles following social media posts showing how to start these cars without a key.
"The TikTok challenge is just basically teaching people how to do it, which is crazy," said Roe Conn, with the Cook County Sheriff's Office.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has written to social media companies, asking them to take down these posts. He said there were 74 thefts of these cars in July and part of August last year. This year there have been 642, which is an increase of 767%.
Quinn Cunningham, from Illinois, had his Kia stolen from a parking spot outside a Milwaukee restaurant. They apparently broke a window to get in. When he came out, all that was left was the broken glass.
"I ran outside and my back windshield was just ripped off, pulled off the ground laying there and it kinda clicked, my car's been stolen," Cunningham recalled.
"We've never had a rash like this," said Chief Paul Winfrey, with the Park Forest Police Department.
Park Forest police say they found a stolen Kia after it crashed into a house, adding that they have recovered nearly all of the stolen vehicles.
"Basically, they're just taking cars joy riding or committing another crime then dumping them," Winfrey said.
The Park Forest chief said nearly all of the suspected thieves have been young teenagers.
Police suggest getting a car alarm or device that locks to the steering wheel, making it impossible to drive the car. You can also register your vehicle with the Cook County Sheriff's Office.
Once you sign up on the Cook County Sheriff's website, giving them permission to track your vehicle, they'll give you a sticker to warn would-be thieves.