Every so often, your local TV news or newspaper may run a story about tire thefts on the rise in your fair city. The police will weigh in, warn you to park in a well-lit area, and maybe there'll be a few images like the one above. If you haven't seen one yet, chances are you won't have to wait long -- because all signs point to tires and wheel thefts as one part of the economy that's growing strongly.
No official agency or trade group collects statistics on wheel and tire thefts, and it's all too easy to blow a few incidents into a national trend. But the sheer number of reports from around the country suggest a rising trend in wheel and tire swiping. Tires and wheels offer a near-perfect combination of attributes to thieves. They're easy to haul, quick to remove, untraceable on online auction or classified sites, and frequently usable on several different vehicles, with a value that can hit $3,000 a set.
Talk to local law enforcement about any thefts in your area. Have they seen an increase in recent years? Are certain cars more likely to have their tires and wheels stolen?
Give people tips on how to protect their vehicles from these thefts. Local police and body shops could be a good place to find this kind of information.
You could use this as an oppotunity to look at local crime statistics. How have they changed since the economic downturn? Which crimes are up and which crimes are down?