FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — A viral TikTok challenge is encouraging criminals to steal cars. It's a problem across the nation, and even right here in Northeast Ohio.
Police say the thieves are going after Kias and Hyundais that use a regular key and not a push button or key fob. The most recent hit around our area was at the Fairview Village Apartments on Sept. 12.
Surveillance video shows three men pull up in the parking lot around 1 a.m. In a matter of minutes, they take off with two cars. Fairview Park police say a total of three cars were taken that morning.
"They went in there and knocked off the locking mechanism and used a tool to start the car," Police Chief Paul Shepard told 3News. "They knew what they were looking for, they chose a location where there were a lot of vehicles so there was a lot of cover, and they found a bunch of cars of that make and model."
Shepard adds that while this viral trend is around, it's a good idea for residents to take extra measures to protect their vehicles.
"Just basically harden the target," he said, "so whoever comes out, it makes it difficult for them to steal."
One thing police suggest is using an anti-theft device such as a The Club. In fact, Westlake police are offering the device to any owner of a Kia or Hyundai with proof of ownership courtesy of the car maker themselves.
In a statement, Hyundai said, in part:
"Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles. While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media. Criminals are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021."
Meanwhile, Fairview Park authorities say residents shouldn't be worried about living here.
"It's an incredibly safe city," Shepard asserted. "Our officers and investigators have done a really good job of finding the evidence, leading to identities of people who are responsible so we can get warrants out for their arrests."
Chief Shepard says they have identified "persons of interest" in the case, and are close to making arrests.
Editor's Note: The following video is from a previous, unrelated report.