Watch CBS News

Police give out The Club for steering wheels on West Side amid Kia, Hyundai thefts

Police give out The Club for steering wheels amid Kia, Hyundai thefts
Police give out The Club for steering wheels amid Kia, Hyundai thefts 02:56

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Commercials for that steering wheel lock known as The Club were unavoidable back in the 1990s – one of them even involved a conceit in which an auto thief used the device to protect the cars he stole.

Now, as CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Thursday night, Chicago Police are hoping the old-school device could solve a very new problem plaguing Hyundai and Kia owners in the city.

"I liked my car," said Aaron Williams.

But Williams isn't too fond of his 2021 Kia sport-utility vehicle these days, because it keeps ending up getting stolen.

"I got it in August of 2022," he said.

By November, thieves stole Williams' Kia for the first time.

"Right off the block at my house," he said.

And the day after he got the Kia out of the shop in December, it happened again.

"I came outside and noticed glass is on ground, which was confirmation that my car had been stolen," Williams said.

It was stolen for the second time in just four months.

Right now, the steering column is getting fixed again for the new year, and it leaves Williams uneasy about parking his Kia again in the West Side's Austin community.

"It can raise a lot of different feelings that make you not even want a car anymore in the first place," he said. "and I feel like for Kia, they should update their technology."

Both Kia and Hyundai owners are in the same bind. Through Dec. 28, 2022, Chicago reported 21,087 car thefts – the highest we have seen in 16 years.


And when you look at the top five car brands stolen in Chicago, Kia and Hyundai are neck-and-neck for the very top spot. There were 3,372 Kias and 3,351 Hyundais stolen last year through Nov. 25 in Chicago.

In December, the CBS 2 Investigators told you about a class action lawsuit against the two car manufacturing companies for a lack of engine immobilizers making them easier to steal without a key.

And while Kias and Hyundias make up 7 percent of city cars, they are 38 percent of the city car thefts.

"The government needs to get involved," Matthew Van Fleet, of MLG Attorneys. "This has become a public nuisance."

But until that happens, officers from the Austin (15th) Police District hope to slow the car theft trend.

"We've seen cars being taken in 20 seconds, and we wanted to do something," said Austin District Sgt. Edgar Brown.

A total of 200 units of The Club – an anti-theft device that locks the steering wheel – were purchased and donated by West Side businesses and churches.

"We wanted to give them a sense of relief that we are here not only just to do the report, but help provide a sense of security," said Sgt. Brown.

The giveaways have been successful and appreciated, and are open to anyone who lives in the city.

while The Club isn't foolproof, the hope by this giveaway is it will slow down or maybe deter the thieves from stealing that car.

You can stop by the Austin District station weekdays anytime before 5 p.m. to pick up a Club. The station is located at 5701 W. Madison St.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.