YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Police Department said that the number of stolen vehicle reports and break-ins has increased.

It’s apparently the latest craze involving the social media site Tik-Tok, showing people how to start newer model Hyundais and Kias without the keys and prompting a nationwide jump in auto thefts of those vehicles.

“We’re getting these cars stolen on a daily basis…multiple daily,” said Captain Jason Simon.

Although specific numbers aren’t available, Youngstown Police Captain Jason Simon says after years of declining local auto theft figures, officers have seen an increase this summer especially after dark.

“There are security flaws in these vehicles that the criminals have learned to exploit,” said Simon.

Another problem being seen involves thefts from inside vehicles. Whether they’re locked or not, that would-be thieves can find in plain sight.

“It’s easy to do. We all are probably guilty of it at some point. But there’s common sense things that you should not leave in your vehicle,” said Simon.

But police are also seeing an increase in the number of firearms stolen from cars.

“And I’m not sure why folks are leaving guns in their cars. I get it, carrying the gun, but bring it in the house when you’re done with it,” Simon continued.

Cpt. Jason Simon said that those stealing vehicles are targeting late model Hyundais and Kias. WKBN has reported on incidents nationally targeting these types of vehicles due to a security flaw.

In addition, unlocked cars are the targets of break-ins.

The thefts are happening in the evening hours, Simon said.

The Youngstown Police Department is urging everyone to take best-practice, common-sense approaches to general crime prevention:

  • Lock your car;
  • Do not leave the following in your car:
    • Spare keys;
    • Money, credit cards, or IDs;
    • Firearms;
    • Vehicle registration which contains your address (you get two copies, one of which does not have your address listed);
    • Other valuables

Also, park under a bright light and make sure that there is lighting around your house and think about installing security cameras.

If you spot anyone trespassing on your property or trying to access your car, don’t confront them, Simon said. Call 911 and provide a good description of the suspect(s).

To protect your car from being stolen, it is recommended to install a column lock or other disabling device so your car cannot be driven away.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, vehicle thefts have increased nationally, too. Nationwide, 932,329 vehicles were reported stolen to law enforcement in 2021, a 6% increase over 2020, and a 17% increase since 2019.

Colorado leads the nation in thefts:

  1. Colorado
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. California
  4. New Mexico
  5. Oregon
  6. Washington
  7. Missouri
  8. Nevada
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas