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Rising tide of Kia and Hyundai thefts in NY spurs debate about juvenile justice reform

New York has been grappling with a significant increase in car thefts, particularly of Kia and Hyundai models, with a notable portion of these crimes attributed to juveniles influenced by a viral challenge on TikTok.


This uptick in thefts has been marked by alarming incidents. The severity of these events has reignited discussions on the adequacy of current legal consequences for young offenders.

In Syracuse alone, out of 1,010 cars stolen this year, around 40% were Kias and Hyundais, while in Rochester and Buffalo, the figures are even higher.

The debate is centered around the balance between accountability and rehabilitation for young offenders.


Law enforcement officials advocating for change say there’s a need for a “reasonable level of accountability,” recognizing the importance of not resorting to excessively harsh punishments.

The spike in juvenile-involved crimes has also brought the state’s bail reform policies, which eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, under scrutiny. There is growing concern about whether these policies adequately deter such criminal behaviors among youths.