A Northwest Side man accused of trying to steal two cars tried to talk his way out of trouble by telling cops he was simply “a dumb teenager [who] wanted to take a car for a joyride,” Chicago police say.
While bold, the strategy failed for Jovanni Brown, 18, who is now charged with two counts of burglary and criminal damage.
Police responded to calls of a suspicious person trying to open car doors near the 8300 block of West Addison in Dunning around 9:30 p.m. on August 22. When they arrived, a witness reported that a man tried to break into a Hyundai Sonata and pointed toward Brown, who was walking nearby, a CPD arrest report said.
The cops went to Brown, who told them “he wanted to explain something,” the report continued.
After Brown confirmed his rights, he “freely continued to make incriminating statements that he is a dumb teenager and wanted to take a car for a joyride,” officers wrote in the report.
The officers explained that “joyriding was actually stealing a car,” to which Brown said, “he just wanted to go around the block to see what it felt like.”
Police said Brown first tried to drive away with a man’s Volkswagen while the car’s owner loaded another vehicle nearby. Then, just before the cops arrived, a witness allegedly saw Brown break the rear passenger window of a 2016 Hyundai Sonata. Prosecutors allege that Brown intended to steal both cars and had a screwdriver when the cops arrested him.
Judge William Fahy released Brown on his own recognizance.
Kia and Hyundai vehicles continue to be stolen at an alarming rate as thieves exploit a design flaw that allows some models to be operated using a USB plug as a key.
Thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles surged 767% in the summer of 2022 after the “Kia challenge” swept social media, showing everyone how to steal the cars. A nationwide phenomenon known as “Kia boys” soon emerged.
Lawsuits began within weeks, including a federal class action suit against the manufacturers on behalf of car owners whose vehicles were affected by the defect. CBS2 reported that 10% of the Kias and 7% of Hyundais registered in Chicago were stolen last year.
By January, some major auto insurance companies had stopped issuing new policies for affected models in Chicago and other big cities.
Both companies announced software upgrades this spring that they claimed would prevent their vehicles from being stolen by Kia Boys. Among other things, the updated software requires the car doors to be unlocked with the key fob before the vehicle starts. But Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office said last month that there are reports of cars being stolen even after the upgrade is installed.
Raoul and attorneys general from seven other states want the companies to either buy back the easily stolen models or recall the vehicles and equip them with “engine-immobilizer technology.”
“The attorneys general do not think the software upgrade is effective because in the six months it has been available, there are reports of Hyundai and Kia thefts in upgraded vehicles,” Raoul’s office said.
Also signing the letter are attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Raoul was among officials from 18 states who urged the federal government to recall affected Kias and Hyundais earlier this year.
So far this year, auto theft reports are up 94% in Chicago compared to last year and up 226% compared to 2019, according to CPD’s newest crime figures.