Charlotte car thefts were up 20% in 2022. Police point to a TikTok trend.

Matt Rourke/AP

Charlotte police say a TikTok challenge could be to blame for an increase in car thefts in 2022.

Vehicle thefts in Charlotte increased by 20% from 2021 to 2022, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s end of the year report. Kia and Hyundai vehicles made up eight out of every 10 vehicle stolen in 2022, the report shows.

Deputy Chief David Robinson said the rise in thefts is connected to a TikTok challenge where “juveniles” stole Kia and Hyundai cars due to a manufacturing defect that allows them to be easily hot-wired with a USB cord.

“If you’re a Kia or Hyundai owner and you’re hearing me right now, please take precautions to put a club on your steering wheel, park in a well-lit area, know where your vehicle is,” Robinson said. “Get a car alarm, something to help us with that.”

A TikTok video showing how to easily steal certain models of the cars spread nationwide, resulting in dozens of lawsuits, The Washington Post reported. Hyundai and Kia have both announced plans to work with vehicle owners and address the defect.

The video spreading around the social media platform violates TikTok policy, a spokesperson told multiple media outlets, and the company has removed the video when its found on the app. TikTok’s public relations department did not respond Monday evening to The Charlotte Obsevrer’s request for comment.

Crime data in Charlotte, NC

Car thefts were just one of the crimes that contributed to Charlotte’s 3% overall rise in crime in 2022.

Commercial burglaries increased 29% from 2021 and arson was up 14%.

But Robinson said it’s important to note that violent crime decreased by 5%. The previous year it decreased 7.5%.

“I would put these numbers up against any major city,” Robinson said.

Here’s a breakdown of statistics CMPD presented to the Charlotte City Council Monday night:


Property crime increased 6%.

Homicides increased 10%.

Robberies increased 2%.

Vehicle thefts increased 20%.

Commercial burglaries increased 29%.

Arson increased 14%.


Residential burglaries decreased 7%.

Vehicle break-ins decreased 1%.

Police engagement

People called 911 about 979,000 times, an increase of 1% from 2021.

Police interacted with civilians 529,000 times, down 1% from 2021.

CMPD made 14,059 arrests in 2022, an increase of 7% from 2021.

Police seized 3,182 illegal guns in 2022, an increase of 8% from 2021.