If you live in Brookfield and own a Kia vehicle manufactured between 2011 and 2021 or a Hyundai vehicle manufactured between 2016 and 2021, you are eligible to receive a free steering wheel lock to prevent your car from being stolen.

Police Chief Michael Kuruvilla says the police department received a shipment of 96 steering wheel locks from Kia, whose parent company is Hyundai, to combat a wave of thefts of those vehicles in recent months.

In order to be eligible to receive a free steering wheel lock, you must be a Brookfield resident and the registered owner of one of the Kia or Hyundai vehicles listed above. Police request you bring the vehicle and registration with you to the police department, 8820 Brookfield Ave. to pick up one of the devices.

They are available at the front desk of the police station on a first come, first served basis Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles that have push button ignition are not eligible to receive a steering wheel lock, because thieves are specifically targeting models with keyed ignition.

Thefts of Kias and Hyundais exploded in 2022 in response to a social media “challenge” that demonstrated how someone could steal them using a simple USB cord. Thefts of the vehicles have been reported throughout Chicago and the suburbs, including Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside.

While Kia and Hyundai apparently have been willing to give police departments steering wheel locks upon request, they don’t appear to be actively reaching out to make those connections.

Kuruvilla said a resident suggested Brookfield initiate a steering wheel lock giveaway after seeing a news article about Oak Park doing so. Kuruvilla said an inquiry sent to a general Kia email didn’t get a response, but he was able to contact a police officer in East Providence, Rhode Island, who had success getting steering wheel locks from Kia.

A Brookfield detective using contact information obtained from the Rhode Island police officer was able to reach someone at Kia, which then sent the steering wheel locks to Brookfield.

Kia and Hyundai are also now offering free theft deterrent software updates for their keyed ignition vehicles. According to a February press release from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the update extends “the length of the [theft] alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.”

For information on the free software update, Kia owners are asked to call 800-333-4542 while Hyundai owners are asked to call 800-633-5151. 

However, the press release indicates Kia and Hyundai will roll out the software updates in phases over several months.

In the meantime, a steering wheel lock may be a better deterrent.