Thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles have skyrocketed in Duval County, and police say a group of youngsters is partly responsible.
About 700 Kias and Hyundais have been stolen this year, up from 198 all of last year, Sheriff T.K. Waters said Wednesday.
The sheriff announced that seven children, ages 10 to 15, have been charged with felony auto theft. Some also face robbery charges.
“Detectives learned that the younger juveniles were groomed by the oldest juvenile to commit these auto crimes after they self-educated themselves on the methodology available on YouTube and TikTock,” Waters aid. “They stole these vehicles from across the city, not for profit, but rather to joyride and impress girls.”
Kias and Hyundais have been targeted across the country after a security flaw was exposed on social media. Both carmakers agreed to a lawsuit settlement worth about $200 million over claims that many of their cars are too vulnerable to theft, according to NPR.
The arrests in Jacksonville came after detectives chased seven juveniles in a stolen Kia Rio, apprehending them after it crashed.