Hot wheels: Thieves leave drivers high and dry

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by Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 7:04 PM

HOUSTON—Imagine waking up in the morning, walking out to your car and discovering somebody put it up on blocks and stole your wheels.

That’s what happened at eight houses in the same subdivision early Thursday morning in the area.  And law enforcement authorities said it’s becoming a more and more common crime.

“My neighbors and I all kind of sat here gathered looking at it like it must be some practical joke,” said one of the victims, a young mother who wants to remain anonymous.  “I mean, it just seemed crazy.”

The thieves targeted high-end factory and custom wheels on expensive vehicles like Cadillac Escalades, which sell for more than $5,000 a set.  Law enforcement authorities suspect they brought along a trailer to carry away the 32 stolen wheels.

“We had what appears to be some organized theft ring move into the Walden subdivision for a one night shopping extravaganza,” said Capt Wally Wieghat with the Harris Co. Constable’s Office, Precinct 4.

Sometimes, the thieves apparently didn’t even use jacks.  Instead, they seem to have stacked paving stones under the frame, and then let the air out of the tires until the vehicle rested on the bricks.  Then they appear to have used an offset lug wrench to remove the wheels.   

“It doesn’t take any time to get the lug nuts off the vehicle,” Wieghat said. “And they can be in and out and gone.”

No one in the subdivision reported seeing or hearing anything about the thefts, authorities said.  That’s especially surprising, because some of the vehicles were equipped with motion sensing alarms that would have sounded.  That indicates the thieves carefully lowered all the tires in a synchronized maneuver.

“This was my first fancy, brand new car,” said one of the victims.

 

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