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Wheel thieves roaming Manteca streets can easily cost you $1,000
wheel theft 2

In less than 10 minutes thieves can make off with all of your tires and rims.

A growing number of Manteca car owners — particularly of late model Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys — are learning that the hard way.

Manteca Police are warning residents about an uptick of tire and wheel thefts. The most recent thefts have been on Balzo Street, Huerto Place, Dalia Lane, Garold Lane, and Crom Street.

Police indicate once the thieves jack the vehicles up they are using cinder blocks and rocks to keep the car high enough before removing the wheels and tires. A typical car can be stripped of its wheels and tires in 10 minutes. Insurance companies indicate the thefts can take place fairly quick using  a jack and a battery-operated tool known as an impact wrench with a lot of torque.

The loss is typically in excess of $1,000 and can easily hit $5,000 plus depending on the rims and tires.

The possible suspects involved in these crimes are described as two thin males, wearing dark clothing. A possible suspect vehicle is a 2000s model white 4-door Kia Optima.

Anyone with any information pertaining to these thefts or who may have video footage from their residences in the area from the night of Jan. 14 through the morning of Jan. 15 are asked to call the Manteca Police Department to provide information to Community Service Officers B. Morgan and E. Diaz.

Experts say tire and wheel theft has become more lucrative due to a growing number of Internet sites selling them as well as proliferation of brick and mortar businesses that sell used auto parts.

The Camrys and Accord are targeted mainly because they are popular selling models meaning there is a larger market. law enforcement, however, cautions any vehicle can be targeted.

A New Orleans dealership selling Hondas and Chevrolets found that out the hard way in March when they have $120,000 worth of tires and rims stolen off vehicles on their lot.

Given the wheels don’t have serial numbers and buyers are highly unlikely to ask for proof of ownership selling them is relatively easy. Given that stolen wheels — depending on the model and style — can easily command $1,000 to $5,000 or half the cost of retail there is no lack of potential buyers.

According to Gieco Insurance steps you can take to reduce the risk of you wheels being stolen include:

* BUY LUG NUT LOCKS: This involves replacing one of the lug nuts on each wheel with a lock, which requires a special tool to remove. Often a dealer add-on when you buy your vehicle, they cost around $100 for four (one for each wheel). They’re also available at auto stores or online for a little less; you can put them on yourself or bring them to a mechanic to install for you. For extra protection, you can buy lock kits for all of the lug nuts on your wheels. Just don’t lose the key, which you’ll need to remove the wheel should you have to change a flat tire.

*INSTALL AN ALARM WITH A SENSOR: Unlike standard car alarms, which alert you when your car has been broken into, alarms with sensors can detect a tilt or angle change if thieves try to jack up your vehicle. Some high-end, newer vehicles offer this type of alarm, or you can buy it as an aftermarket addition for $250–$500. A couple caveats on the aftermarket option: The sensors may not sync with your car’s existing alarm, and you’ll need to have a repair shop install them, which costs an additional $225, on average. All told, you might be looking at more than $700 — a lot of money, but less than what you’d spend on a new set of wheels.

*PARK IN SECURE, WELL-LIT AREAS: Thieves almost always strike at night, staking out areas where they’re less likely to be discovered, like a dark street without lights. Stay in areas where there’s more traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, and where there are security cameras, if possible. If you’re parking somewhere overnight, make sure your car is visible.

*TURN YOUR WHEELS: When you park your car, turn the wheels to a 45-degree angle. This will make it difficult for a thief to get the lug nuts off, because the inner fender will likely be in the way.

*PARK CLOSE TO THE CURB: When parallel parking on the street, get as close as you can to the curb. The closer your vehicle is, the more difficult it will be for a thief to put a jack underneath your car. While the street side of your car will still be exposed, at least the tires on the curb side of your car will be better protected.