PORTLAND, Oregon — A Portland mother is asking police to crack down on the so-called Kia Challenge, a car theft trend she said her daughter has participated in.
"They're stealing these cars, wrecking them or joyriding in them and wrecking them," said Sherrie, who asked KGW not to use her last name.
The popular TikTok trend dares people to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Videos posted on the social media site show how to use a USB cable and other tools to do it.
According to Portland police statistics, a total of 84 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in July of this year, more than quadruple the number of those reported stolen in July of 2021.
From June 12 to August 20, there was a 269% increase in stolen Kias and a 153% increase in stolen Hyundais compared to the prior 10 weeks, according to Portland police data released Thursday.
Sherrie said her 16-year-old daughter has been involved in at least three Kia thefts this summer. She said two theft incidents ended in dangerous accidents, including one last week.
"It was wrecked so bad it caught fire," Sherrie said. "An officer there informed me that there's nothing they're going to do, so these families are out here hurting and being victimized without any justice. Being that my child is involved, I'm not going to sit back and not do anything."
Sherrie said she reported all three thefts to police but said they never followed up with her on any of them. She said her daughter and friends see that and are emboldened by it.
"That is my biggest reason for stepping out because I know there are a lot of other parents dealing with this," Sherrie said.
Sherrie said she didn't have the names of the officers she talked to. Without that information, a police spokesman told KGW he couldn't respond to her specific situation. But on the car theft problem in general he said officers do follow-up work in between responding to 911 calls and almost every shift is constantly short officers.
"It frustrates us that we can't give the highest level of service we believe our community deserves," said Portland Police Lieutenant Nathan Sheppard in an email to KGW. "With a growing population and the shrinking police force we've experienced the last few years, we sometimes can't provide the same level of service we use to. However, we'll keep trying."
Police also shared that The Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Home will only accept youth for certain serious crimes, typically for violent offenses outlined here.
In the meantime, Sherrie worries this trend of car thefts will only get worse and the consequences more serious. She hopes her daughter will finally listen.
"I would rather have her in [juvenile detention] knowing she's somewhere that's more than likely gonna be safe for her," Sherrie said. "Rather than to get that phone call that they find my child deceased somewhere or that they have her in handcuffs because she's taken the lives of someone else."