Anyone who pays attention to Oak Park police summary reports knows that Hyundai and Kia vehicles are getting stolen left, right and center lately. Two Hyundais and two Kias were purloined from the village, between Feb. 6 and Feb. 13. Another Kia had its steering wheel damaged in an attempted theft sometime between Feb. 7 and Feb. 8. The thefts are occurring almost daily.

To prevent further thefts, the Oak Park Police Department is hosting a steering wheel lock giveaway for residents who drive select Hyundai and Kia models. As supplies are limited, residents must pre-register by emailing Community Policing Sergeant Robert Monty, at, to request a free steering wheel lock.

The department will provide locks to people who drive Hyundai models manufactured between 2016 to 2021 or a Kia models manufactured from 2011 to 2021. Locks can be picked up between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Feb. 25, at the police station, which is in the basement of village hall, 123 Madison St.

There were an astounding 266 vehicle thefts in Oak Park last year, a notable increase from 71 in 2021. The surge in Kia and Hyundai thefts mirrors regional and national trends, according to the police department.

Those particular vehicles are easy targets for theft because they use a mechanical key to start rather than a key fob and push button. Videos have circulated on social media showing people how to steal certain Kias and Hyundais using a bog-standard USB charger, which most people keep in their vehicles. Thieves use the USB charger to turn a vehicle’s ignition and in about a minute, they are cruising away in a car that doesn’t belong to them.

On top of steering wheel locks, the police department recommends people who drive Kias and Hyundais manufactured in the previously specified years take extra precaution with an engine immobilizer. It is also recommended to park in well-lit areas and to keep the overhead doors to personal parking garages closed.

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