Carjackings plunge as ‘Kia boys’ fuel a 185% increase in traditional auto thefts in Chicago

Chicago police are investigating two armed carjackings reported Sunday evening in Lakeview and the West Loop. But, hijacking reports in the city are down sharply from the two most recent Novembers, which were the second- and fourth-worst months for carjackings since at least 2001, as traditional motor vehicle thefts, fueled by the “Kia boy” craze, skyrocket.

Yesterday’s hijacking in Lakeview occurred around 7 p.m. in the 1100 block of West George Street.

Two women were inside a white Toyota when the carjacker displayed a gun and demanded control of the vehicle, according to a Chicago police spokesperson. When the hijacker climbed into the car, the other woman, still in the back seat, began physically fighting with him, police said.

Members of the Chicago area vehicular hijacking task force stop a driver in January 2022. | CPD

The second woman eventually exited the car, and then one of the women returned to the vehicle and sprayed the hijacker with pepper spray before he drove away with the car. Chicago police said the carjacker struck a parked car and stopped after a short distance to pick up an accomplice, then they sped away.

An officer at the scene described the hijackers as two Black men in their 20s. The primary hijacker wore a gray zip-up sweatshirt, and the accomplice wore a purple and green jacket.

Then, around 9:54 p.m., two hijackers displayed a gun and took a 22-year-old man’s Chevy Malibu at gunpoint in the 800 block of West Madison. They were described as two Black men wearing black ski masks and black clothing.

CPD recorded 47 hijackings this month through November 14, the most recent date for which data is available. That’s more cases than most Novembers since 2009, but it’s down sharply from 98 cases during the same period last year and 87 in 2020.

Meanwhile, reports of traditional auto theft are through the roof, with 1,397 cases reported during the first 14 days of November. That’s up 185% compared to the same month last year and far exceeds any November since at least 2009.

Auto theft cases have been rising sharply for months since the social media-fueled “Kia boy” phenomenon hit town this summer. “Kia boys” take advantage of a design flaw that allows them to steal Kias and Hyundai vehicles with little more than a USB cord.

Chicago police officers who have spoken with CWBChicago believe that people, particularly young Chicagoans, who want to take a car for joyrides or crime sprees are turning to Kia and Hyundai thefts instead of hijackings.

Stealing a car has at least two benefits over hijacking. Of course, it’s less confrontational and less risky.

But, even better from the thief’s point of view, traditional auto theft may go unnoticed for hours or even days before a police report is filed. But hijackings are reported almost immediately, and hijacked cars are quickly entered into the city’s stolen car and license plate reader databases, giving them a considerably shorter shelf-life.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com