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Citrus Heights PD hands out free steering wheel locks to combat auto theft

Steering wheel lock
Citrus Heights police Tweeted a photo of Officer Anthony Boehle handing out a steering wheel lock, Wednesday. // Courtesy, CHPD

Following a 39 percent spike in motor vehicle theft in the city last year, the Citrus Heights Police Department announced a new campaign this week to help arm owners of the most commonly stolen vehicles with a tool to help deter the crime — a free steering wheel lock.

According to a March 28 news release, free locks are only available for owners of the top three vehicles stolen in the city. Owners must also be Citrus Heights residents and have proof of current vehicle registration and ownership.

Police said the top three vehicles stolen over the past five years in Citrus Heights are:

  • Honda Accord (1990‐1997)
  • Honda Civic (1990‐2000)
  • Ford F‐Series trucks (1998‐2007)

Qualifying vehicle owners can pick up a free steering wheel lock, while supplies last, at the Citrus Heights Police Department on Fountain Square Drive. Owners must bring their vehicle along with proof of current registration and proof of ownership.

The police department is located at 6315 Fountain Square Drive, in Citrus Heights. Regular business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The department cautioned that while steering wheel locks are “not a guarantee your vehicle will not be stolen,” an anti-theft device can be a helpful deterrent to crimes of opportunity.

“If a would‐be vehicle thief encounters a vehicle with a steering lock installed, there is a high likelihood the thief would move on to another vehicle because of the extra effort needed to remove the steering wheel lock,” Lt. David Gutierrez said in Tuesday’s statement to media.

The department said the new anti-theft campaign is an addition to an array of other efforts already in use by CHPD, including its high profile “bait vehicle” program, targeted enforcement, a “Battle Auto Theft” program, and license plate reader technology.

In a March 9 report to the city council, Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence reported that motor vehicle theft in the city rose 39 percent during 2016, compared to 2015. He said such thefts are “up all over the state” and said vehicle thefts notably rose after prison realignment in 2011, which is often blamed for the early release of prisoners.

According to a five-year comparison presented by Chief Lawrence, motor vehicle theft in Citrus Heights appears to average about 370 thefts per year, with 376 listed in both 2014 and 2016. A noticeable drop down to 271 thefts occurred in 2015, which police took credit for.

See more crime statistics: 2016 annual report: overall crime up 4% in Citrus Heights

Police said the latest steering wheel lock campaign was made possible through the utilization of Sacramento Area Vehicle Theft Reduction Unit funds.

CHPD also offered other vehicle theft prevention tips in its March 28 news release, including never leaving your car unattended while running, keeping your vehicle in a garage if possible, and parking in well‐lit areas.

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