Over 40 car dealerships have been hit so far this year in a rash of wheel and tire thefts sweeping the state, reports the Detroit Free Press. In the latest incident, brazen thieves swiped the wheels and tires from seven new Explorers and one Expedition, leaving the vehicles on landscaping bricks in a dealer’s lot near Kalamazoo, Mi. “I was very upset. You feel helpless,” said owner Bill Dorrance. “We’ve lost four wheels at a time before, but never on this scale.” Law enforcement agencies are now teaming up to address what they says is an increasing problem in Michigan.
With people often working in small, organized teams, like a pit crew on a race track, the crime can happen quickly. “(There are) a lot of variables,” including how experienced the thieves are, Michigan State Police First Lt. Scott Woodard said. “If they’re good, they can have all fours tires off in two minutes and be gone.” Officials from 30 law enforcement agencies met two weeks ago at State Police headquarters in Lansing to discuss wheel and tire thefts. They swapped information and tried to piece together possible patterns. Advances in vehicle anti-theft technology have contributed to the increase in stolen wheels. “It’s far easier to jack up a car and steal the tires and the rims than it is to steal the entire car,” said Mark Wagenschutz of Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (HEAT).