Earlier this year the LAPD Northeast Division, which patrols the area from Silver Lake and Echo Park to Eagle Rock and Highland Park, announced it would begin selling The CLUB steering wheel locks for only $11 (compared to a retail price of about $30) to help deter car thieves. This week, Hollenbeck Division, which covers Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Lincoln Heights, came out with its own version of the program but their steering wheel locks are free.
Sgt. Andrew Rea with the Hollenbeck Division said he did not want to get into the business of selling locks. He just wanted to raise awareness about the vehicles most vulnerable to theft and ways their owners can protect them. The Hollenbeck Division steering wheel locks are not the well known CLUB brand but they will do the trick, said Rea. The division was able to buy more than 300 of the locks thanks to donations from the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce and a Hollenbeck Division police booster group. Motorists who live in the division and can show they own among the most stolen vehicles – including 1990s Honda Accords, Civics, Acura Integras and Toyota Camrys – can get a free lock. Anyone whose car has recently been stolen within the Hollenbeck Division can also get a free steering wheel lock, Rea said.
The locks will be distributed on a first-come, first-save basis at the Hollenbeck station house. However, in a few cases, vehicle owners won’t need to stop off at the station. Some Hollenbeck officers will be pulling over qualified vehicle owner while on patrol to give them a lock, Rea said. “It’s almost like a courtesy [traffic] stop,” he said. They drivers “are really surprised.”
Photo courtesy LAPD