Just this week, a 45-year-old Hayward man was tragically shot in Oakland while trying to retrieve his stolen pickup truck, highlighting the alarming trend of car thefts and related violent incidents in California, as The Mercury News recently reported. The man, now in stable condition at a nearby hospital, had received a tip from a friend about the location of his stolen Chevrolet truck and decided to take the matter into his own hands. Upon arriving at the scene, the victim confronted a man in his truck and began a physical altercation; subsequently, another man drove an SUV to the scene and shot the truck owner in the ankle.
The suspects, including the shooter and the man in the truck, along with a woman present at the scene, fled in the SUV. Details about the trio remain scarce, but the question remains: Was this just an isolated incident, or is there a deeper problem lurking within our communities?
According to a recent Axios report, car thefts in San Francisco have disturbingly risen by 42% from January 2019 to December 2022. The data is based on the San Francisco Police Department's records and paints a disturbing picture for residents. However, it must be noted that overall crime in the city has seen a 7% drop in the same period.
This troublesome trend of car thefts is not exclusive to San Francisco. Major cities throughout the country have been facing a similar surge, with some blaming a recent TikTok trend showcasing how to steal certain models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles using a USB charger. The so-called "Kia Boyz" have amassed a significant following on the platform, and their influence can be seen in the disproportionate number of stolen Kias and Hyundais in cities like Berkeley, where 38% of all stolen vehicles since December were from those two manufacturers, as informed by NBC Bay Area.
Public figures have also been targeted, including Golden State Warriors' interim head coach Luke Walton, who had his Mercedes-Benz stolen during a crime spree in Oakland Hills, California. An article by Bleacher Report states that Walton's vehicle was among several other possessions taken by two suspects, who were later arrested by the police. Fortunately, Walton was not physically harmed in the incident.
These incidents do not exist in a vacuum, and the steady rise in car thefts and associated criminal activities pose a serious threat to the safety and well-being of Californians. Car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai have taken notice of the issue and responded by releasing new theft deterrent software for more than 8 million vehicles, in an attempt to curb the trend. Meanwhile, TikTok has publicly condemned the content, stating that it will remove any such videos that violate the platform's policies.
Local governments are also taking action to address the problem. San Francisco supervisors recently voted on an ordinance to allocate an additional $27.6 million toward police overtime, while the city is considering granting raises to police officers to improve law enforcement in the region, as reported by Axios.