Tire and rim thefts are increasing sharply in Detroit, Mich., according to Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (H.E.A.T.) and the American Car Rental Association (ACRA).
H.E.A.T. is Michigan’s statewide auto theft prevention program that coordinates citizen action with law enforcement agencies through a confidential toll-free tip line for reporting information on stolen vehicles, chop shops, and suspected auto theft activities including insurance fraud, identity theft and carjackings.
While vehicle thefts in Michigan are in a five-year decline, the city of Detroit’s Commercial Auto Theft unit has already handled approximately 114 reported rim and tire thefts during just the first six months of 2013. The sharp uptick in auto theft-related crime is not occurring anywhere else in the country at this time, according to the ACRA.
These thefts are also increasing as thieves can make a profit by selling them to crooked dealers and repair shops. Because not all wheel and tire shops keep an inventory book to identify sellers of the items, cases can be difficult to investigate.
“This has become a huge problem, and it is happening to vehicle owners across Metro Detroit, including the suburbs. These unconventional auto thefts have taken off because stealing rims and tires is an easy way for thieves to make a quick profit,” said Sgt. James Vogler, manager of the Action Auto Theft Task Force for Grosse Pointe Park.
Because thieves target easy-to-steal tires and rims, H.E.A.T. recommends that drivers park in a garage whenever possible, a parking lot with an attendant, or in well-lit areas with pedestrian traffic. It’s important for citizens to report what they know about these crimes to police, and to H.E.A.T., since it’s almost impossible to stop a thief who is determined to take the wheels from a vehicle.