NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Imagine this — you lock your car at night, you bring your keys inside, and you wake up to find your car has been stolen. It’s happening to people right here in New Orleans, and the New Orleans Police Department says could be attributed to hacks on social media that teach people how to steal cars with a USB cable.
For Keyondra New, what she thought was a dream quickly turned into a real-life nightmare.
“Last Saturday, I came outside at like 9 o’clock in the morning, my car was gone, and I thought that it got towed, so I went down to the tow yard for the city. It wasn’t there.”
However, when New informed her family about her missing vehicle, they told her about a viral trend on TikTok making it easier for people to steal vehicles.
“There’s a social media trend, usually on TikTok, of some individuals that figured out how easy to steal certain model cars,” NOPD Det. Joshua Diaz told WGNO’s Anna McAllister. “People are finding it and replicating that, unfortunately here.”
The videos show people how to jump-start cars, specifically Hyundais and Kias, using a USB cable. Diaz says it’s becoming a bigger problem across the country.
“Looking into it through the investigation, we found that it’s problematic nationwide in multiple major cities,” Diaz explained.
More than a week after it was stolen, New’s car was found totaled and dumped with four other cars in New Orleans East’s Little Woods neighborhood.
“It had a bullethole on the front window, the windows were busted out, the front end was ripped off, the side panel — it’s a loss, a total loss,” said New.
Diaz says the best way to protect your car is to purchase a steering wheel lock and an alarm system, but New is concerned the thefts will keep happening as the trend gains popularity on social media.
“Now that they know cause you see the TikTok video, they’re going to try it next.”
So far, residents in several states have filed lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai for what they claim is a defect in their vehicles. As for the car thefts right here in New Orleans, Diaz says the department is still collecting evidence in the investigations and asks for anyone who has any information to contact Crimestoppers.