A Club steering wheel security lock on a Kia Rio in Victorville, California, on Aug. 11, 2022. (Felipe Sanchez/Shutterstock.com)

The City of Evanston will distribute free steering wheel locks in an effort to stop an uptick in auto theft.

EPD Officer Otha Brooks told a virtual 2nd Ward meeting Tuesday night that there have been eight car thefts in the ward over the past 30 days, mostly Kias and Hyundais.

The thieves “break the rear window, peel the steering column and start the car with some sort of USB cord,” he said.

Brooks said the city contacted the two car companies, who agreed to donate 96 “Club” steering wheel locks. He added that the city hopes to obtain more to give away.

You can also buy one for about $40.

Thefts of Kias and Hyundais have skyrocketed recently nationwide for a couple of reasons

First, some models (Kia 2011-21 and Hyundai 2016-21) do not have some of the anti-theft devices built in to other cars.

And second, perhaps because of reason #1, social media “car theft challenges” have led to a large number of underage car thieves going after the vehicles.

“If you have a garage, please use it,” Brooks said.

Besides cars, there have also been quite a few porch package thefts “all over the city,” Brooks noted.

He suggested having packages sent to a delivery hub. Both Amazon and UPS have such secured delivery sites in Evanston, where you can pick up your parcel.

Or, you can do things the old-fashioned way. Let your neighbor know you’re expecting a package, so the neighbor can grab it for you before a bad guy grabs it from you.

Brooks said he calls those porch pirates “vultures, because they’re scavengers. They come along and take things that don’t belong to them.”

Added Ald. Krissie Harris, “This is a very different world that when I grew up. If you see something, say something.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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