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News / Northwest

Seattle police arrest ‘Kia Boy’ accused of multiple car thefts

By Lulu Ramadan, The Seattle Times
Published: January 8, 2024, 7:38am

SEATTLE — Seattle police arrested an 18-year-old man accused of stealing several cars across King County over the course of months, according to the police department.

Police did not name the man, but said he calls himself a “Kia Boy,” a reference to a social media challenge that gained popularity two years ago and encouraged the theft of Kia and Hyundais. The nickname is used by some suspected car thieves.

Detectives had been investigating the 18-year-old for months, the department said. On Thursday, the SWAT team arrived at his home in the South Park neighborhood. The man jumped out of a second-story window and ran, police said, but officers quickly caught him.

During a search of his home, detectives say they found a stolen handgun and several car keys. An image of the evidence included in a police news release shows three Kias, a Honda, a Jeep and a Subaru.

The 18-year-old is accused of eight counts of auto theft and eight counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, according to police.

Police reported a dramatic increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts in Seattle from 2021 and 2022, after a viral social media challenge explained how to hot-wire the cars using a USB cable. The spike in car thefts revealed a flaw in the automakers’ anti-theft technology.

In January 2023, Seattle became the first city in the nation to file a lawsuit against the Kia and Hyundai manufacturers, seeking damages.

“Kia and Hyundai need to take responsibility for the public safety hazard that they created,” City Attorney Ann Davison said at the time.

In December, Bellevue police arrested two self-proclaimed “Kia Boyz” accused of stealing cars and robbing stores. The arrests were also the result of a months-long investigation, according to police.