Kids have stolen around 200 vehicles this year already.
Earlier this year, Mazda was named the best car brand of 2021, but we doubt that New Zealand citizens will feel quite so good about the Japanese automaker a year from now. See, the Australasian country, specifically the province of Taranaki, has been going through a strange phenomenon: the theft of older Mazda cars. Apparently, there's some sort of social media challenge that is going viral, and this is causing teenagers to film themselves stealing cars that are easy to break into. Most of the cars being targeted are small Mazda runabouts, as they are perceived to be easy to get going with just a little hot-wiring.
According to a report from the NZ Herald, the thefts are believed to have been carried out by a group of 30 teenagers with some as young as 13. The group is allegedly responsible for the theft of more than 100 cars since January, although the problem seems to have first started in November and December of last year when as many as 30 cars were stolen. In 2021 so far, 200 vehicles have been stolen with 108 of them Mazdas. Senior Sergeant Kyle Davie says, "We understand there is some link to social media and that videos of the offending are being posted on to various social media platforms which is potentially something to do with those young people gaining notoriety." Mazda owners are being urged to be vigilant and to take preventative measures to avoid theft.
The cars that seem to be most popular with the thieves are the Mazda Familia, Atenza, and Demio, which is New Zealand's version of the Mazda 2. Davie continues: "We can't be 100 percent sure why they should be targeting Mazdas, but we believe it's because there is a perception that they are easy to break into and to interfere with the ignition wiring to get them going, which is known as hot-wiring, and that's why we tend to think these Mazdas are being taken." It's a sad state of affairs because these older cars are owned by those who can't necessarily afford to buy a new Mazda like the CX-3 or another car. Hopefully, the cops can bring this silly trend to an end soon.