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Walker Police now seeing spike in Kia, Hyundai thefts

In the past month, nearly 20 Kias have been stolen or attempted to be stolen in Walker.

WALKER, Michigan — The Walker Police Department says the town is seeing a spike in Kia and Hyundai vehicles. 

Since Saturday, Walker Police are investigating 10 reports of stolen Kias or Hyundai vehicles along the Alpine Avenue corridor, Green Ridge Square shopping area, Center Drive hotels, Greenridge Apartments and AMC Theater.

Walker Police are connecting these thefts to the Kia Boys, who have been active throughout Kent County.

On Tuesday, police said a vehicle owner caught some teenagers trying to break into and steal his Kia at the Green Ridge Square. Police said the suspects took off in a Kia they had reportedly stolen from a nearby hotel.

As they fled, police said they intentionally struck the owner who confronted them. He wasn't hurt. 

"A lot of arrests that have been made, there's guns located in the cars, people are being arrested with guns. So, it's not just the stolen car," Walker Police Chief Keith Mankel says. "You have these juveniles that are have guns, so those are pretty big concerns."

Later on, Grand Rapids Police chased that stolen vehicle in a low-speed pursuit and took three teens into custody. Two weapons were found inside the vehicle, and the driver was determined to be a 14-year-old boy. 

GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom says these arrests were an exception, since these situations typically do not end with teens in custody. 

"There's a real chance that a 14-year-old, who's probably not a very experienced driver, is going to go right through a red light and get T-boned and perhaps kill themselves or kill someone else," he says. "Chasing those vehicles is generally off the table as well."

In the past month, nearly 20 Kias have been stolen or attempted to be stolen in Walker.

RELATED: GRPD: Three teens in custody after they stole Kia, led police on low-speed pursuit

Between May 1 and July 7, GRPD reported 396 thefts and attempted thefts of Kias and Hyundais in the City of Grand Rapids. 

Police say a group of kids or teenagers steal the cars for fun or to then use them to commit other crimes and they learn how to do it on social media.

It's a trend on TikTok across multiple area codes, including the 616.

The TikTok videos range from people driving around with a missing steering wheel column cover to GRPD chasing down a Kia driver.

"I think these kids think it's a game. It's very dangerous," Chief Mankel says. "We have to work hard to get this under control, because it is very dangerous for the community as a whole."

To prevent yourself from becoming a victim, police recommend: 

  • Buy a steering wheel lock.
  • Lock your car.
  • Make sure the alarm is on.
  • Park in well-lit areas or garage.
  • Use camera surveillance systems.

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