Single Houston mother is latest victim of TikTok trend driving up auto theft numbers

Brooke Taylor Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
Why Kia and Hyundai models are being stolen more in Houston
Houston police continue to see the number of car thefts rising, most notably among certain Kia and Hyundai models. It turns out, HPD says, it may have to do with a TikTok trend.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A single mother of two found herself the victim of a TikTok trend, which Houston police say is driving up auto theft numbers in the area.

Paris Henry posted a video on TikTok after her car was stolen outside her apartment building in Katy in March. The video of a visibly upset mother just trying to do her best went viral with 39,000 likes.

"My car is my livelihood because I am a travel therapist. I go into homes and provide therapy to juveniles," Henry said. "When this was done it left me with nothing."

Her 2017 Kia was later found abandoned nearby, with its windows smashed and a flat tire.

Henry believes this was connected to the TikTok videos shared by the so-called Kia Boys. The videos show them stealing Kia and Hyundai cars using only a USB cable, or something similar in shape, to start the vehicles.

Her car's ignition was ripped out with a phone charger that she believes the thieves used to start the car.

Sgt. Tracy Hicks with the Houston Police Department's Auto Theft Division said the viral hack created copycats and contributed to a spike in Houston.

"It's young people, 15- or 16-year-old kids," Hicks said. "They figured out the ease of stealing the older Hyundai and Kia cars, and they are just stealing them, making videos, wrecking them, and crashing into other cars."

According to our ABC13 Neighborhood Safety Tracker, auto thefts over the last 12 months are up 20.8% compared to the annual average over the last four years. An average of 363 cars are stolen a week in the city, according to our tracker.

Since 2022, Hicks says Kia and Hyundai cars started to creep into Houston's top 10 most stolen cars list. It's something he says he has never seen before and the trend has continued to increase over time.

Last month, three Hyundai models and two Kia models made it to the top 10 list. Seventy-two Hyundai Elantras, 51 Hyundai Sonatas, 38 Kia Optima's, and 30 Kia Souls were stolen.

"What they are not stealing these cars for is to re-sell them, or take the parts off, or to re-sell those," Hicks said. "These cars are specifically stolen to mostly commit other crimes."

Henry wants the thieves to know how they are impacting the people they're stealing from.

"I had to put money on Ubers. Luckily, I had amazing people help me on TikTok, rental cars, all that, to be able to grocery shop, just to ensure we had what we needed," Henry said. "It's hurtful because they know what they are doing, and they don't care."

Henry does not have insurance and is still trying to pay off her bills and figure out what to do with her car. She created a GoFundMe Page to help with expenses.

Houston police say there are tips to prevent thieves from stealing these types of cars. They encourage Kia and Hyundai owners to visit the companies' websites.

Houston police say there are tips to prevent thieves from stealing these types of cars. They encourage Kia and Hyundai owners to visit the companies' websites.

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