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Car Tire Thefts On The Rise

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “They just left it up on crates,” Choppin laughed. “Our relatively nice, new car in this nice, new place.”

Choppin has become the victim of a growing trend: thieves targeting a 2,500 pound car for its wheels. The car’s standard alarm lacks a motion sensor, so it will not go off if someone yanks the wheels.

“Two big guys can get on one side of the car and just lift up the car,” demonstrated Choppin, “and a third guy can take off the wheel.”

The tires are becoming a hot commodity for older Civics and Acuras.

“Usually, cars have five nuts that hold the wheel in,” said Joe Mascitelli of 1st Rate Auto and Truck Repair. “This one only has four, which is the same pattern as the older Hondas.”

One of the simplest ways to protect a car is to get a set of wheel locks. A set of four costs about $50. And they require a special key to open, making it much more difficult to get the wheels off the car.

“It’s not 100 percent, but it keeps someone in the middle of the street from taking it,” said Mascitelli.

Philadelphia police say they do not keep track of tire thefts by types of car, but pictures of Fits on cinder blocks or crates are all over Honda internet forums. Mascitelli is seeing more come into his shop.

“This is about the third one we’ve done, so it’s getting to be a regular thing that we’ve been seeing.”

Mascitelli says wheel locks should protect most tires, but motion sensitive car alarms–about $250–can provide added security.

Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS3

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