DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Law enforcement agencies across Montgomery County are cracking down on car thefts. This comes after a year of record car thefts, thanks, in part, to a social media trend involving Kias and Hyundais.

Back in October 2022, agencies teamed up to start Auto Theft Suppression Joint Operations. Since then, they made 38 arrests and recovered 34 cars. Lt. Randy Beane with the Dayton Police Department said they also found things like drugs, guns, and money inside some of the cars.

“These individuals are involved in other things, not just stealing cars, or involved in violent crimes. So the stolen cars are going hand in hand with robbery, shootings, dealing drugs and other things like that,” Lt. Beane explained.

These thefts are not just happening in Dayton. Lt. Beane said they are seeing a rise across the county.

“The most thefts are happening in West Dayton, but we’re finding the people that are stealing cars are going all over the county. We’re getting individuals from Centerville, Washington Township, Kettering, all the way up to Vandalia. A lot of them are the same people going into different jurisdictions and stealing cars,” Lt. Beane said.

Lt. Beane also said it is not necessarily a specific group of people stealing cars, like the ‘Kia Boys,’ a term that grew in popularity on social media.

“We might have small groups that get together to steal cars, but it’s not some large gang or a group of people getting together to steal cars. It’s just individuals calling themselves the Kia Boys,” Lt. Beane said.

Lt. Beane said the agencies are continuing to work together to hopefully shut down even more thefts in 2023. While Kias and Hyundais are being targeted the most, they are also seeing a rise in cars being stolen because people are leaving their keys inside. Because of this, they are reminding everyone to lock their cars, park in a well-lit area, and stay vigilant.

“Purchasing any kind of anti-theft device, making sure they’re taking the keys out of the car and away from the car so that if they have a key fob, it can’t be started. So anything they can do to help protect themselves from becoming a victim is highly encouraged,” Lt. Beane said.

Lt. Beane also stressed the importance of taking valuable items out of cars, especially guns.