SILVER SPRING, Md. — Police in Montgomery County have arrested seven teens for stealing a Hyundai Sonata Wednesday night. One 14-year-old, three 15-year-olds, two 16-year-olds, and one 17-year-old were charged with auto theft, according to police.
The incident happened around 7:30 p.m. in the 12300 block of Livingston Street in Silver Spring. That's where officers responded to a report of a suspicious situation. Detectives from the Auto Crime Enforcement Section (ACES) were in the area conducting patrols in response to Hyundai and Kia theft trends and responded to the location as well.
A preliminary investigation found that officers saw a red Hyundai Sonata leaving the area at a high rate of speed. Officers determined that the Sonata was reported stolen from Washington, D.C. A short time later, the Sonata was involved in a crash and seven suspects ran away from the scene.
Officers located the suspects and took them into custody without incident. All seven juvenile suspects were charged with auto theft related charges and released to the custody of their parent or guardian, police said.
Police have attributed many of thefts to a TikTok social media challenge, which included videos that appeared online showing people how to steal cars from those manufacturers using USB charging cords.
The method of using a USB cord to steal certain models of Kias and Hyundais has been on the rise since instructional videos appeared on social media. The Highway Loss Data Institute says the cars being targeted are because the keys lack computer chips for theft "immobilizer" systems.
The NHTSA said Tuesday that the challenge, which has spread nationwide, has resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.