Police in Clermont say car thefts on the rise, similar to those prompted by TikTok challenge

Clermont police offices are warning drivers to lock up after several cars were stolen this week. They say thieves are targeting Hyundai and Kia brands, and it's possible, this could be part of a TikTok challenge.

A total of six cars went missing at the Vistas at Lost Lake and Grandview Apartments on Monday and Tuesday including brands such as Kia (4), Hyundai (1), and Mazda (1). Police discovered two other cars had been tampered with. "Saw that the steering wheel and ignition were tampered with, popped."

Lt. Malcolm Draper said he is concerned the challenge has made a stop in Central Florida. "We’re just seeing similarities at this point to the TikTok challenge. This is still an active investigation." 

The social media challenge encourages people to use a USB cord to start older Kia and Hyundai models. "I would hope it’s not a TikTok challenge with all that stuff going on," says Clermont resident Donovan Eve. "Pretty messed up for the most part. I just wouldn’t expect that."

It's particularly concerning for owners of the vehicles being targeted. "That upsets me, makes me worried," says Kia owner Ashley Sole.  "Now I feel like I’m going to have to check on my car often." 

Lt. Draper says officers can use the TikTok video as evidence if a person is caught breaking the law. "If it’s a criminal act in the video itself, that could be used against them." 

In many of the cases, the victim’s car doors were unlocked, according to police. Drivers we talked to say they will be careful. Donovan says,

"Definitely making sure before nighttime, locking things up, making sure it’s good to go," Donovan says.  Ashley adds, "I love my Kia! Now I will make sure I will keep an eye out." 

Lt. Draper asks anyone with video of the thefts to share them with Clermont police by calling 352-394-5588.