The morning rush brought a surprise to some Calgary drivers early Wednesday as officers handed out free steering-wheel locks at various locations in the city.

Stationed at LRT park-and-ride lots, as well as downtown and Mount Royal College, police gave out the anti-theft devices to drivers of cars most likely to be targeted by thieves.

The giveaway, sponsored by the Alberta Motor Association and the Calgary Police Service, was engineered to remind Calgarians to take precautions against auto theft.

For two hours starting at 6 a.m., hundreds of the devices were given to drivers of vehicles including Ford trucks, Honda Civics and Jeep Grand Cherokees.

In 2007, about 6,500 vehicles were stolen in Calgary, about nine per cent higher than the 6,000 taken the year before, according to police.

The AMA said Alberta has the highest vehicle theft rate in Canada, costing Albertans $60 million a year in insurance claims.

Calgary police issued a warning to owners of Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks last week, saying thieves had found a "weakness" that makes the vehicles easy to steal.