A string of tire thefts in New Haven has left many drivers stranded and forced to spend big bucks.
According to authorities, thieves are targeting wheels on a certain type of car -- the Honda Fit.
"Well, I was walking and I saw my car up on a concrete block without any of its tires," said Mini Englart of New Haven, who woke up Thursday morning with no tires and no way to get to work.
When she left her apartment early Thursday morning, she said, "Oh wow. ... Ohhhh.' Then I started a chain of curse words that I'm not going to repeat right now."
Over the past week, thieves have hit eight Honda Fits in the Wooster Square and East Rock communities.
Police said these types of thefts have been reported throughout the company.
Police think the wheels are in high demand because their value has gone up and they are compatible with several models of vehicles, which are often customized for illegal street racing.
"I feel like people took them to sell them to make money and they might not think that has a really big impact on someone else. And nobody's hearing anything when it's happening. ... Apparently these people are really good at it," said Lisa Siedlarz of the SOHU Block Watch Association.
New Haven Police have told other block watch groups that wheel thefts are an issue throughout the city and that teams troll neighborhoods overnight, pick specific cars like the Honda Fit and quietly get the wheels off in minutes.
"It's on four rocks. ... Four cement blocks and someone must have stole my wheels and I must've stood there for a second. ... Did this actually happen?" said Trevor Johnson, who became a victim when thieves stole wheels off his Acura RSX last week on Greene Street in Wooster Square.
"It could've been a lot worse. At the same time, there's nothing more inconvenient than all four wheels and tires being stolen," he said.
The thieves seem to be hitting these streets between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. and police are trying to shift as many patrols to these hours as they can.
"A lot of the times, if you have a locking lug nut on your rims, they're not even going to try," said Ryan Chase, manager of the Town Fair Tire shop in Hamden.
Most tire experts recommend locking lug nuts to make what would be a two-minute job for a thief into a long process.
Trevor, who just moved here from Wisconsin, is considering this.
"Nevertheless, I still want to get wheel locks, probably going to get a garage and not park my car on the street anymore," said Johnson.
Locking lug nuts cost around $20. If you don't have them, you can bring your car to a local tire shop to get them put on.
Police off the following tips:
- Install lug or wheel rim locks. They are inexpensive and you can buy them from most any auto-parts store and are simple to install.
- Use, install or further sensitize your car's alarm to detect motion.
- Park in a well lit and well-traveled area. Thieves will think twice if their activity can bee easily detected. Outdoor lighting - either illuminated after dark or by motion sensor, are often deterrents to criminal activity.
- Report suspicious persons and vehicles to the police department and your neighbors.