CHARLOTTE — Police say a teenager could be connected to more than half a dozen car thefts across the Charlotte area.
The models of the cars involved are ones Channel 9 has previously reported as being part of a social media trend. Police said TikTok videos showcase how easy it is to steal Kias and Hyundais with no key needed.
In this case, a warrant shows a Bojangles receipt led police to teen who could be tied to several local car thefts.
Morgan Wells now keeps her Kia Forte in her garage after it was stolen from her Mallard Creek apartment parking lot last September.
“Oh I was livid. I was really upset,” she said.
She’s one of eight victims whose Kias or Hyundais were stolen in September and October 2022 in Charlotte. On Tuesday, Channel 9′s Hunter Sáenz uncovered a search warrant that shows a 17-year-old is a person of interest in all of them.
“I couldn’t believe it, really,” Wells said.
The latest was on Oct. 10, 2022. According to a search warrant, police said a Kia Optima was stolen from a parking lot in University City. The thief used a defect in the vehicle that allows the car to start by using a charging cord.
Later that same day, the car was found along Ponders End Lane, 2 miles from where it was stolen. Inside the stolen car, investigators found a Bojangles receipt, so they decided to pay the restaurant a visit.
About a mile and a half away from where the car was stolen, surveillance cameras captured the Kia turning into the Bojangles. Also caught on camera: The thief getting out of the car, walking inside, and placing an order. He later walked out, got back in the Kia, and drove off.
The drop-off spots where all of the stolen cars were found were all in the same area.
“He’s most definitely not learning his lesson,” Wells said. “It’s honestly terrible.”
The warrant says police found the teen in another stolen car last year, and his cell phone connected to the car’s Bluetooth. Now, detectives want access to his phone to see if it was connected to those other stolen cars too.
It’s unclear if the juvenile has been charged yet in any of this.
Last week, State Farm confirmed to Action 9 it temporarily stopped taking new customers who owned certain Hyundai and Kia models because of a rise in thefts. Multiple news reports say Progressive is also stopping its coverage of certain models, but didn’t say if any of those are Hyundais or Kias. Current customers of both insurers can keep their coverage.
(WATCH BELOW: TikTok connection to stolen Hyundai)
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