In the 1990s and early 2000s, theft of light alloy wheels, which were scarce on the market, was a plague. The practice of wheel stealing seems to be making a comeback – especially in big cities.
If you want to equip a brand-new Mercedes GLA with a set of 19-inch rims (AMG design), you have to pay extra PLN 4,908 to the price of the car. On a popular auction site, the same rims marked as “used” cost PLN 5,200.
This is exactly how much a skillful thief can earn in one evening without bothering to dismantle a car, “legalize” it or find a front man who would pick up shoddy goods from him. All that is needed is an anonymous account, a lower price than other similar offers and… voila. A client is unlikely to investigate the origin of the rims, if they can buy them 1000 or 2000 PLN cheaper than in a showroom or from legal competitors. Receipt, invoice? The most important thing is that a car looks more stylish, because it rides on 19 inch rims.
Tires are another valuable asset. Depending on the size and manufacturer, they can cost as much as the rims themselves. The tires of one of the premium brands, size 235/50 R19, cost PLN 1,200 per piece. This means that a thief with one move, or in fact with a few movements of a key, can steal a property worth 10,000. PLN.
“Our customers often ask us if we have a solution to prevent theft of wheels. Many people mention in conversations with us that their wheels were stolen, not the whole car. Our representatives at the workshops also reported this problem to us” – notes Bogdan Kwiatkowski, sales director at Gannet Guard Systems.
Car owners, especially high-end vehicles, wanting to protect their property, use factory anti-theft bolts or those offered by the rim manufacturer. But for a skilled thief, they are not an obstacle. All he needs is a set of covers and wrenches, a few blows with a hammer and a screw becomes as easy to unscrew as any other. Thieves choose a cover for anti-theft screws – in a similar pattern and hammer the screw.
Rims are usually stolen at night, and thieves choose places where there is little chance of being caught. It takes 10 to 20 minutes to lift a car and remove all wheels. Thieves are usually equipped almost as well as vulcanization workshops, incl. with electric tools (battery powered wheel wrenches) and top-class lifts.
Is there a chance to effectively protect yourself against rim theft? Modern technologies come with help. – Vehicle location systems equipped with special sensors are able to register even a slight move of a car or its movement, e.g. while it is being lifted. Thanks to the alerts and parameters set in the mobile application, a car owner is immediately notified that something unplanned is happening with the car, notes Bogdan Kwiatkowski, sales director at Gannet Guard Systems.
What’s more – monitoring systems based on GPS / GSM and radio signals make it possible to locate a vehicle and find it in the event of theft.