CRIME BLOTTER

One of the supposed ‘Kia Boys’ charged with multiple felonies

Jan 23, 2024, 12:05 AM

A Kia exhibit...

A Kia exhibit (Bill Pugliano, Getty Images)

(Bill Pugliano, Getty Images)

A self-proclaimed “Kia Boy” may have been involved in the theft of 13 Kias and Hyundais since last October, King County prosecutors said.

Saylen Kelly, 18, was charged with eight felony counts of possession of a stolen vehicle Monday. Bail was set at $100,000.

“This was a long time coming for this guy, with as many charges as they have listed. And police had been watching him for some time and building this case,” Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound‘s Jim Fuda said.

Separate case: ‘Kia Boy’ charged with 5 counts of robbery, other felonies

According to court documents, Kelly is believed to be associated with a criminal group in West Seattle. He is suspected of participating in the theft and/or possession of at least 13 vehicles between Oct. 24th, 2023 and Jan. 5.

Twelve of those were Kias and Hyundais. At least four of those were used in attempted thefts or robberies in the City of Seattle during the time they were stolen. Eight of the recovered stolen vehicles were recovered within 1,000 feet of Kelly’s residence.

“Because of the lack of accountability that’s happened these last few years here and the changing of state laws with the pursuit policies and those kinds of things, is that we are raising a generation of career criminals,” Fuda said.

During the investigation, the Seattle Police Department conducted undercover surveillance of Kelly’s home and the area nearby where he allegedly parked stolen cars. Investigators also monitored two anonymous social media pages, where Kelly bragged how he stole cars and offered his help to others who wanted to steal Kias and Hyundais.

Pierce County firetruck robbed: Doing job safely a question, officer says

Threat to Kia, Hyundai owners is ongoing

Theft insurance claims for vulnerable Hyundais and Kias increased more than 1,000% between the first half of 2020 and the first half of 2023, according to a story from CNN earlier this month. The outlet’s report cited data from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an industry group that tracks insurance statistics.

Kelly’s arrest and charges will have an impact, Fuda said. But the threat to owners of vulnerable Kias and Hyundais is ongoing.

“It’s not just theft, it’s the crimes against people. It’s the robberies. This is something that they need to get a handle on. These people who are doing it need to know police are coming after you,” Fuda said.

Kelly pleaded not guilty to all charges.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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