A 14-year-old boy is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after crashing an alleged stolen Kia car into a tree Sunday night in north Minneapolis, according to police.

Minneapolis police responded with fire and EMS personnel around 10:40 p.m. Sunday after a report of a single-vehicle crash near N. 39th and Upton avenues. The officers found a 14-year-old boy with severe injuries, according to a news release Monday evening.

The boy was the only occupant, and the Kia Optima had been reported stolen, police said. The boy was taken to North Memorial Health Hospital, where he remained Monday, according to Sgt. Garrett Parten.

"This is an absolute tragedy as a young life hangs in the balance," Minneapolis Chief Brian O'Hara said in the release.

Speed was a contributing factor in the crash, police said.

MPD used the news release to highlight significant increases in Kia and overall car thefts in the city in 2022 and to say there are problems with how easy it is to steal Kia cars.

Kia and Hyundai thefts in Minneapolis number 2,166 so far in 2022, compared with 218 at the same point in 2021, according to police. There also have been 131 Kia and Hyundai vehicles stolen more than once in 2022, including five that have been stolen three times.

"The ease by which certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles can be stolen creates too great an opportunity for this crime," O'Hara said. "Not only does this endanger youth, but it also endangers everyone near them when they are behind the wheel."

Overall auto thefts also are up by 48% with 5,868 this year compared with 3,966 in the same timeframe for 2021, police said.

O'Hara went on to say there needs to be a community effort to reduce the car thefts and subsequent crimes used with them.

"Some of these vehicles are then used to facilitate more serious crime and harm in our communities," he said in the release. "This requires a community response that includes immediate action by the public, the criminal justice system and those who provide services for our youth. It also requires immediate action by these auto manufacturing companies."

MPD advised Kia and Hyundai owners to safeguard their cars by taking steps such as:

  • Using an anti-theft device like a high-visibility steering wheel lock.
  • When possible, park in a garage or well-lit areas.
  • Lock the doors and remember to take the keys.
  • Never leave the car running.
  • Don't leave valuables in the car.

The department has a limited supply of steering-wheel locks available to people whose Kia or Hyundai has been stolen in Minneapolis. The vehicle must have been stolen without the use of keys, and the owner must have filed a theft report. People meeting those criteria may contact their local MPD precinct with their eight-digit case number for a steering wheel locking device. Devices will be distributed first-come first served.