KENT, Wash. - Joseph Leyva suffered a traumatic brain injury when a car hit him several years ago. Then his car was stolen and left heavily damaged.
"They ripped the whole entire dashboard out," Leyva said.
The 1995 Honda that Susan Best owns was stolen too, just six months ago.
"I got my car back in a couple of weeks," Best said. "But I have to drive my clients around so I need my car."
They are not alone. Hundreds of vehicles, many of them 1990-to-1999 Japanese-made cars, are being stolen in Kent.
Kent police received a grant to buy 100 steering wheel locking devices, or clubs, to give away to victims of multiple car thefts or those who soon could be.
"The club is an anti-theft device," said retired Kent Police Officer John Pagel, who spearheaded the giveaway. "It won't prevent them from being prowled, but hopefully, if a car thief is walking down a row of cars and they see one with a club on it, they'll pick a different car."
"Because their goal is really to get the car with the least trouble?" he was asked.
"Absolutely," Pagel replied.
Best said she knew she needed a club but simply couldn't afford to buy one. So this is like an early present.
"I can't do that again," Best said. "I can't have my car stolen again."
So what else can one do to prevent becoming a victim?
Police say don't leave valuables in your car, even for a moment. And when shopping, if you want to put a few things in your trunk, drive around after you do it, so thieves won't see you.
Kent police gave away more than 80 steering wheel clubs, hoping to make a small dent in a big problem this holiday season.
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