University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh police are getting proactive to prevent vehicle thefts on campus.
After a pair of Kia vehicles were stolen last week amid a national trend, the UW-Oshkosh Police Department is offering free security devices to members of the University community who own the vulnerable Kias and Hyundais and have an overnight parking permit.
The thefts took place on Sept. 10 in Lot 30, located behind the Gruenhagen Conference Center off Wisconsin Avenue. UWO police have since recovered both vehicles.
Kias and Hyundais have been frequent targets of thieves across the country in recent months. In Milwaukee earlier this year, police reported that two thirds of vehicles stolen in the city were made by either Kia or Hyundai.
"Some good partners came together really quickly to try to help these people from getting their vehicles stolen," said UW-O Police Capt. Chris Tarmann. "O'Reilly Auto Parts worked with us and they gave us a little bit of a discount and we're working with the UWO Foundation to get reimbursed — it's a good partnership and they're helping to take this proactive measure."
UWO PD plans to reach out by email to those on campus with overnight parking passes registered for Kias or Hyundais.
The Club-brand device is a simple pedal lock, which connects a vehicle's gas or brake pedal to its steering wheel. It then locks with a key and the vehicle becomes undriveable. Tarmann said officers will even give a demonstration on how to use it.
University police have adjusted patrol plans because of these incidents. The goal for offering these devices is to help prevent any further thefts.
In July, Kia and Hyundai teamed up with the Milwaukee Police Department to distribute similar locks to owners of the vulnerable vehicles who live, work or go to school in the city. That came after Milwaukee police contacted the companies after a surge in Kia and Hyundai thefts in the first half of 2021.