Madison police to give away 100 free Hyundai steering wheel locks at National Night Out event

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Police Department will hand out 100 free steering wheel locks to residents who drive certain Hyundai vehicles that have become top targets for thieves.

Drivers will be able to get the locks at the police department’s annual National Night Out event at Warner Park Wednesday evening. They will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“[Recipients] can just pull their vehicle up right in front of this table and then one of our detectives or one of our officers will just simply go ask for that registration or see the vehicle just from the make and model and then be able to get them the device,” Madison Police Department public information officer Stephanie Fryer said. 

“We are asking for you to show proof of ownership,” Fryer said.”That can be a registration card, your title or simply having us walk to your vehicle. We will happily do that to make sure you are given the device needed to keep your vehicle safe.”

Hyundai donated the locks to the department.

Of the 77 or more vehicles stolen in Madison in June, 14 were Hyundais and 21 were from sister brand Kia, police said. The majority of the stolen vehicles had either their windows or steering wheel columns damaged.

According to Paul Nachreiner of AMS Madison, those specific Hyundais and Kias have key fobs without a transponder chip that communicates with the antenna to act as a built-in anti-theft device.

Without the transponder, thieves can damage the steering column and fool the car into thinking anything is a key.

RELATED: Experts share anti-theft tech amid rash of Kia, Hyundai thefts in Madison

If they get past the tumblers, they can turn the switch to start the car,” Nachreiner told News 3 Now in June when police first warned Kia and Hyundai drivers of the target on their cars. 

For those who can’t get to National Night Out for the giveaway, Nachreiner said there are other ways to protect vehicles, including a third-party remote or security system controlled by a smartphone app.

According to Fryer, the thefts are a problem nationwide, so it may be hard to find wheel locks online or elsewhere. That’s why she hopes the department can provide them as an accessible line of defense.

“It could protect their vehicle from being stolen…  we’re looking for people who may be parking on the street, parking in an apartment complex, big lot, people who don’t necessarily have the means to put their car in a garage where it would be safe,” she said.

The event runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Police in Beloit are also holding a similar giveaway of 100 wheel locks for both Kias and Hyundais Wednesday evening at Riverside Park.