December 2, 2023

Car theft surged 20% last year, according to fresh FBI data — and a vehicle safety rating agency said models from Dodge, Land Rover and BMW were among the most likely to be stolen.

The FBI’s annual crime report published Monday showed there were 721,852 car thefts across the country in 2022 — up from 601,453 incidents in 2021 and 420,952 reported in 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

Last year’s top 10 most-stolen cars were pegged by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which studied 2020 to 2022 car models and found that three Dodge muscle cars and two Kias made the list.

According to the list, earlier reported on by the Daily Mail, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat topped the ranking as the most broken-into car in 2022, HLDI reported.

There were 6,128 theft claims in 2022 involving the four-door Hellcat — which retails from $81,040 for a 2022 model — while the No. 2 car, the cheaper Dodge Charger HEMI, was involved in 2,197 claims.

Infiniti’s Q50 midsize sedan came in third place with 878 claims, according to HLDI, while yet another Dodge model — the old-timey Challenger — came in fourth as it was involved in 766 theft incidents in 2022.

Rounding out the top five most-stolen cars: The high-end Land Rover’s Range Rover 4dr 4WD, which starts at a cool $95,150, had 611 claims last year.

Two additional Kia models — the Sportage 4dr and Sportage 4dr 4WD — and two pricier models, Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport 4dr 4WD and BMW’s X6 4dr 4WD, as well as one Honda CR-V SUV completed the top 10.

The Post has sought comment from the FBI.

Cops have partly blamed the uptick in car thefts on a viral TikTok challenge that encourages kids to boost Kia and Hyundai vehicles for joyrides — a phenomenon known as performance crime.

Popular videos on the social media platform teach people how to start the cars with USB cables and exploit a security vulnerability in some models sold in the US without engine immobilizers — a standard feature on most cars since the 1990s preventing the engine from starting unless the key is present.

Hyundai has reportedly tried to work with TikTok and other platforms to remove the videos, but new ones have surfaced nonetheless, and fresh waves of thefts have been occurring.

NYPD statistics released last month showed there were 24% more instances of grand larceny auto reports in August compared to the same month in 2022.

In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration blames the trend for at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities, but lawyers suing the carmakers say the number is likely much higher.

Police departmentsin at least a dozen other cities have said these motor vehicle-related performance crimes factor into an increase theyve seen in juveniles arrested for or charged with car thefts.

Still, criminology experts caution that the role teens are playing in the theft increases which began during the pandemic and arent limited to Kias and Hyundais may be artificially inflated because teenagers inexperienced at crime are more likely to be caught.

Either way, the stats show the dangers of social media content looking for ways to go viral.

Earlier this month in Milwaukee, a stolen Kia collided with a school bus, leaving a 15-year-old who was hanging out the window in critical condition. Police later arrested four 14-year-olds, one of whom allegedly was driving.

Another group of thieves swiped an unmarked NYPD car — a black Kia — in January and took it on a nearly 12-hour joyride before crashing in the Bronx.

Calls for accountability have been directed at the automakers. MLG Attorneys at Law, a California law firm specializing in automotive defect lawsuits, has received more than 4,000 inquiries from victims.

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