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‘We didn’t know what was headed our way:’ Stolen Kia crashes near gas station

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — After a Kia was carjacked, crashed, and caught on fire in downtown Jacksonville, members of the neighborhood are feeling uneasy.

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This crime is part of a growing trend involving Kia cars.

Read: Video: Stolen Kia crashes, multiple people jump out while being pursued by Jacksonville police

Yesterday afternoon, Darwin Espanaza said he saw police chasing a red Kia sedan near a gas station on Kings Road.

He told us in Spanish, “It was a little scary because we all have families and we didn’t know what was headed our way.”

In surveillance video, you can see the vehicle crashing into the ditch, with a bunch of kids scrambling to get out. It appears to be seven kids. Witnesses tell us the kids looked like they were ages 9 to 14.

One neighbor I spoke with wanted to remain anonymous, but says he’s concerned knowing children were behind the wheel, putting the community at risk.

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“Anybody running stop signs and crashing is dangerous,” the anonymous neighbor said. “But when you’re dealing with kids – is extremely even more dangerous, because their brains aren’t developed, like adults are and they don’t make the right decisions behind the wheel.”

Sources tell us it was a stolen vehicle, and 5 teenagers were arrested. The video we obtained reveals police chasing the kids on foot and detaining them. JFRD said two kids were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Last week, JSO warned the community about an increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts. A TikTok challenge has been linked to the crimes nationwide. These vehicles are more vulnerable because they don’t have an anti-theft device. This is one of many videos which explain how to break into and steal cars.

The anonymous neighbor said the teenagers involved in this crash aren’t bad kids, they’re just in the wrong crowd.

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“We have to have people that they can look up to on the positive side to influence them to go in the right direction, instead of people to influence them to go in the wrong direction,” the anonymous neighbor said.

The gas station manager didn’t want to go on camera, but he says he’s frustrated this happened. He adds he really wants to see this part of town turn around.

Action News Jax reached JSO asking about how they plan to curtail the crime involving Kia and Hyundai thefts. We are still waiting to hear back.

Now, Hyundai and Kia launched a campaign to prevent car thefts. Everyone who owns this vehicle can get a free software update from your dealer.

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