‘Kia boy’ ran from bullet-riddled car in River North, officials say

Jeremiah Cruz (inset) and a screenshot of the driver bailing from the stolen Kia. | CPD; Provided

CHICAGO — Prosecutors say a man driving a stolen, bullet-riddled Kia crashed into several parked cars in River North, then abandoned the vehicle, and ran away when it could no longer operate because it was heavily damaged. Surveillance video shows two men bailing out of the car and running away, but Chicago cops caught them nearby minutes later.

Police saw the Kia driving recklessly and weaving through traffic near Dearborn and Erie streets around 7 p.m. Wednesday. As they got closer to the vehicle, they realized it had bullet holes.

The driver didn’t stick around for them to ask any questions.

Prosecutors said he stepped on the gas and struck several vehicles, including some parked on the opposite side of the street, as he tried to get away. The Kia sputtered to a stop in the middle of a traffic lane. What happened next? Watch:

Officers arrested two men nearby, including Jeremiah Cruz, 22. Prosecutors say he was the driver of the Kia, which was being operated without keys. The vehicle was reported stolen in River Forest on Tuesday, prosecutors said. Its owner told police that the car didn’t have any bullet holes at the time.

Cruz is charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle and misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and reckless conduct. Judge Susana Ortiz ordered him to pay a $2,000 deposit toward bail to go home on electronic monitoring.

He has previous felony convictions for theft in Iowa and driving a vehicle without consent in Minnesota.

In July, Cruz was charged with criminal trespass to a vehicle and driving without a license after Chicago police allegedly caught him driving a stolen car on the West Side. During a bail hearing this summer, prosecutors said Cruz told cops he “thought it was stolen, but wasn’t sure.” It was stolen from Oak Park, authorities said.

During the July hearing, a prosecutor told Judge Maryam Ahmad that Cruz had no criminal background. But Ahmad said she had paperwork that showed he had felony convictions.

“State,” Ahmad warned the prosecutor, “Ya gotta clean up your backgrounds … he’s not going anywhere.”

The judge held him in lieu of a $1,000 bail deposit and, additionally, without bail for two detainers out of Minnesota. The outcomes of the misdemeanor case and the Minnesota matters were unavailable Thursday evening.

“Kia Boys” take advantage of a design flaw that allows them to steal Kias and Hyundai vehicles with little more than a USB cord. The fad, fueled by social media how-to videos, resulted in 642 Kia and Hyundai thefts being reported in Cook County during July, up from 74 cases in July 2021. 

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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