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Thieves hitting dealership lots for wheels

May 15, 2020
Thieves this month stole wheels from multiple new-car dealerships in the northwest suburbs, the CATA has learned.
 
One dealer said May 14 that he has hired a guard to patrol his lot and a neighboring dealer’s lot from midnight to 5 a.m.
 
As anti-theft technologies such as engine immobilizer systems make cars harder to steal, thieves have resorted to plundering parts and accessories.
 
"They want whatever sells, from the mandated labeled parts to those that aren’t," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explained.
 
Because wheels are not marked, it is easy for thieves to dispose of the stolen property and for criminal middlemen to fence the high-priced items.
 
"The hardest part is tracking these wheels and you really can’t," said the general manager of one of the dealerships. "Just because police find the wheels, it’s hard to track them back to the dealership."
 
Among 15 security tips recommended for dealerships to follow, maintaining proper lighting and using security cameras top the list. A victimized dealer said his vehicles had wheel locking nuts, but the thieves used bricks to smash the vehicle windows to get the keys to the locks in the glove compartments.
 
"The best defense is to make your vehicle less of a target, but if someone really wants your wheels, they’re going to do whatever it takes," said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
 
The affected dealerships ranged from Elgin to Arlington Heights.
 
A description of any suspects was not immediately available.
 
Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call Area North detectives at (312) 744-8263.
 
 

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