Massive Wheel Theft Leaves Texas Dealer with 48 Vehicles Sitting on Blocks
Wheel theft is turning into a big thingby Robert Moore, on
A few months ago, we reported an incident where a would-be wheel thief lost his life after the vehicle he was stealing the wheels from came crashing down on him. In the story, we talked about how big the market is for stolen OEM wheels and how it’s only going to get worse now that automakers are offering larger premium wheels. Well, if it wasn’t evident before, it should be now, as an East Texas dealership found 48 of its vehicles sitting on blocks with no wheels or tires in sight.
According to Automotive News, The Tyler Police Department believes the theft occurred at around 1 a.m. last Sunday morning at which point the thieves cut the locks on the main gates and disabled the lot’s light system. From there, the thieves moved in a box truck and proceeded to jack up various vehicles, remove the wheels and tires, then set them down on wooden blocks. According to the General Manager of Peltier Chevrolet, the value of the missing wheels and tires will be somewhere around $200,000 to $250,000.
All of the vehicles that had wheels stolen were from the dealerships inventory lot, so they weren’t yet spoken for by customers. Vehicles including in the theft include the Chevy Camaro, Chevy Traverse, and the Chevy Silverado. A majority of the wheels were between 20- and 22-inchs but some of the wheels taken from the Camaros were just ordinary wheels – nothing special to speak of. Some of the vehicles were damaged in the incident, but nothing serious. The dealership will do a safety inspection of each one, replace the wheels and tires, and eventually sell the vehicles. It’s certainly not the first theft of new-car wheels, but it’s certainly the largest.
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Why it Matters
This is turning into a very big deal, and the number of wheel thefts from dealerships is increasing as time goes on. The problem is that the wheels are so expensive, and it’s incredibly easy to steal them. Auto manufacturers need to start using uniquely keyed lug nuts for each vehicle, or this isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Until that happens, these kinds of thefts will keep happening. The wheels sell on the black market for about half the price you would pay for a new replacement from a dealer, and they turn up on places like Craigslist or EBay, where you have no idea that they were stolen to begin with. The dealership involved in this latest theft had security cameras, but since the thieves cut off the lighting around their work area, authorities can’t make out much.
For the record, I would like to point out that the dealer is probably padding the value of the wheels a little bit. 48 vehicles without wheels means that 192 wheels were stolen. At a value of $250,000, that would mean each wheel and tire comes at a cost of just over $1,302. That seems a little high, considering we’re talking about Chevy vehicles. These aren’t BMW, Lamborghini, or Mercedes wheels. The tires are your regular old run-of-the-mill all season tires. Either way, those wheels and tires might be worth $120,000 on the street, if that.
Source: Automotive News