Steering Wheels Locking Devices – Do They Really Prevent Vehicle Theft?

Steering Wheels Locking Devices – Do They Really Prevent Vehicle Theft?

Steering wheel locking devices like The Club®, have been around for decades. The Club® was originally invented by a Korean War veteran who was inspired by his military days when he and his fellow soldiers would secure vehicle steering wheels with metal chains.

Today there are several “knock-off” versions of The Club® on the market and depending on the manufacturer they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. The basic concept for all these devices are the same: When affixed to a vehicle’s steering wheel they are designed to prevent the vehicle from turning more than a few degrees in any direction which makes it impossible for a thief to drive the vehicle very far away. The original Club® website explains it best when it says: “If you can’t steer it, you can’t steal it.™”

Steering Wheel Locking Devices as a Deterrent to Vehicle Theft.

These devices are also intended to serve as a visual deterrent to would-be car thieves. The theory is that a thief cruising a parking lot or street looking for a car to steal will avoid cars with a steering wheel locking device and turn their attention to a vehicle without one as they are easier to steal. There is even some thought that upon seeing a steering wheel locking device on a vehicle, thieves are deterred from even breaking into the vehicle.

This sounds logical, but is it true? Are vehicles that are protected by steering wheel locking devices less likely to be stolen than other vehicles without such a device?

There seems to be no reliable statistics, but I believe there is some truth to the assertion that vehicles with steering wheel locking devices are stolen less than vehicles without them. I spent 34 years working as a police officer. During that time I took hundreds of stolen vehicle reports and recovered hundreds of stolen vehicles – sometimes with the thief still behind the wheel. I never encountered a vehicle that had a steering wheel device on it that was stolen.

Critics of steering wheel devices abound. They point out that professional car thieves can defeat these devices by various means. I am sure they can. And, this is true of any security device or system. But the vast majority of car thieves are not professionals. Nationwide somewhere around 70% of all vehicles are stolen by joy riders, drug addicts, and other assorted opportunistic  street criminals. As ingenious as some of these crooks can sometimes be, the vast majority of them are not walking around carrying hack saws with carbon tipped blades, heavy-duty bolt cutters, sophisticated lock picking tools, or other equipment that might be capable of defeating today’s much improved steering wheel locking devices.

Layered Security is the Key to Protecting Your Vehicle

The principal of layered security is well established in the physical security discipline. It refers to security systems that use multiple components to protect a person, place, or thing. No matter how good any single security device or system is, there will always be someone smarter than the people who designed it who will inevitably figure out how to defeat it.

But, that doesn’t mean that you should make it easy for an opportunistic thief to steal your car or truck. Layered security for a vehicle starts with locking your car every time you park it – even if you just park it for a few minutes while you go into a Quick-E-Mart. It means using some common sense about where you park your vehicle and not leaving valuables inside that can lure a thief to your car. It means having an alarm system and in the case of high value vehicles, maybe installing a fog security system or ignition kill switch. And, it also means using a simple and inexpensive steering wheel locking device every time you park your vehicle. That’s what I do.


Like all security devices, steering wheel locks are not undefeatable but they serve as an additional deterrent to vehicle theft. They are inexpensive and, when faithfully used as part of a layered security approach, they can be quite effective.


George W. Babnick, is a 34 year law enforcement veteran with an extensive background in physical security, criminal and administrative investigations, training, school policing, supervision and management, and criminal forensics. He retired as a Captain in the Portland Oregon Police Bureau where he managed the Training, School Police, and Forensic Evidence Divisions. He holds criminal justice degrees from Portland Community College and Portland State University and a law degree from Northwestern California University School of Law, Sacramento California. Mr. Babnick is a longtime member of the Western Society of Criminology and is the author of articles on security and law enforcement, investigations, supervision and management, and risk management related to these subjects. As a physical security expert, George Babnick provides private physical security consultations across the United States and consults with clients outside the United States. He specializes in assessing security problems for small and medium businesses as well as select individuals. He offers independent, honest advice and expertise, with the goal of providing all clients with practical and cost-effective security solutions to enhance security and effectively manage business and personal security risks. Mr. Babnick is also a licensed Private Investigator and conducts investigations for attorneys, businesses, and individuals throughout the State of Oregon. To learn more about security consultation and investigative services offered, please visit Disclaimer: Nothing in any article on this blog should be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice should seek the counsel of an attorney licensed in their state.