COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Some Ohio State University students are fighting back against car thieves.
Student government leaders are giving away steering wheel locks to students to hopefully prevent thefts. So far, Ohio State’s undergraduate student government has given away 200 steering wheel locks — but it hopes to give out more.
“We saw a problem and stepped in to see what we could do,” said Zaida Jenkins, an Ohio State senior and chair of the Undergraduate Caucus.
Jenkins said this year, more students than ever before have become victims of car thieves.
Last month, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced his intent to file a lawsuit against the car companies for “their failure to include industry-standard anti-theft technology in vehicles that has led to soaring levels” of thefts in the city. In 2022, there have been an average of 17 Kia and Hyundai thefts per day in Columbus, a 450 percent increase from last year.
Last weekend alone, there were six Columbus Police reports of stolen cars around campus — four of those being Hyundais and Kias.
“This is an ongoing issue, this isn’t new,” Jenkins said. “But we can constantly evolve and be brainstorming different ways to address it.”
Jenkins said that’s why Ohio State’s undergraduate student government partnered with OSU police to give away steering wheel locks to students. Ohio State police purchased the first 200 locks.
When student government launched the application, Jenkins said they weren’t sure how much interest there’d be. All undergraduate and graduate students were eligible to apply.
Jenkins said they received nearly 600 applications for the locks.
“We had to put in some parameters, and so we selected the first 200 Kia and Hyundai drivers that applied, because those are the most vulnerable cars,” Jenkins said.
The locks are supposed to stop steering wheels from moving. All you do is adjust the size for your wheel. Make sure it’s hooked on tight and lock it.
The hope is that it will deter thieves from trying to steal cars.
Jenkins said many students were thankful — some had tried purchasing their own locks but were dissuaded by high prices.
“We are able to hand over a pretty pricey piece of protection for no cost to the student,” Jenkins said.
Dan Hedman, spokesperson for Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety, said OSUPD purchased the locks with rising auto thefts in mind.
“We are proud to partner with our students to help prevent crime,” Hedman said. “We remind everyone to lock doors and to not leave valuables in your vehicles. Report suspicious behavior to police.”
Jenkins said because of the demand, undergraduate student government is currently working with wholesalers to purchase more locks. Once they do, she said the application will reopen for students.