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TO : Chief, Commercial Rulings Division
Headquarters, U. S. Customs Service

FROM : Chief, National Import Specialist Branch 1 New York Seaport

SUBJECT: Classification of an anti-theft steering wheel lock.

In a letter dated December 17. 1990, Castelazo & Associates, on behalf of Kraco Enterprises, Compton, CA, requested the tariff classification of anti-theft steering wheel locks, called "Nightsticks."

There are two styles of lock involved. The merchandise is basically a bar designed to be locked onto a car's steering wheel. The length of the bar is intended to prevent a would-be thief from turning the wheel freely. The model KMS-005 is as just described; the model KMS-009 has, in addition, an electronic alarm which reacts when the car is jarred. Upon examining the sample, the NIS for alarms was of the opinion that the alarm was a device subsidiary to the "Nightstick's" function of physically securing the vehicle.

The inquirer suggests that the articles should be classified as automobile accessories, under heading 8507.99.50. The precedents which he quotes were both issued under the TSUS and use the concepts of that law; and therefore, are not determinative here. We are, however, forwarding this ruling because we are aware that a large variety of merchandise has been ruled to be auto accessories (e.g., auto visor kits in HQ 081427), a provision which did not exist in the previous Tariff. In this case, we are relying on the definition of accessories given in HQ 087704, on automobile reflectors:

[An accessory is] an article which is not necessary to enable goods with which it is used to fulfill their intended function....They must however, somehow contribute to the effectiveness of the principal article (e.g. facilitate the use or handling of the principal article, widen the range of its uses, or improve its operation.)
The "Nightsticks" are unrelated to the use of the car per se. They are used to secure the vehicle from theft. We believe that the items should be classifiable as locks, as that is the most specific heading. They are commercially sold as "steering wheel locks" and operate by means of a key. HTS 8301.20.0000 provides for locks of a kind used on motor vehicles. The rate of duty is 5.7% ad valorem.

If there are any questions, please contact National Import Specialist James Smyth at FTS 668-5668.

Robert Slomovitz


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