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Long IslandCrime

Increase in thefts of tires, rims on LI since May, police say

Nassau police say there has been an increase of stolen tires and rims across the county since May.

“Although we have seen an uptick of larcenies of tires and rims since May of this year, our detectives with the new Vehicle Theft Squad assigned to Burglary Pattern Team have made six notable arrests with regard to this pattern,” Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun of the Nassau police said in a statement.

Residents can deter tire and rim thefts by keeping driveway lights on overnight, installing surveillance cameras or using wheel locks, said Nassau County Det. Maureen Roach. Crime in general tends to increase during warmer months, she said, adding that the sound of thunder and rain may help wheel thieves go unheard.

A June 13 internal department bulletin obtained by News 12 Long Island notes a spike in tire and rim thefts since May 1, with 16 residential and eight commercial thefts reported. Nassau County police couldn’t provide additional wheel theft statistics Friday.

The thefts typically take place overnight, and newer Nissan and Honda models have been the main targets, the bulletin said.

“As always, we ask that our residents call the police if they see or hear anything unusual so that we can investigate all leads. Tips can also be called into Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS,” LeBrun said in his statement Friday.

These thefts happen fast, said Warren Martz, owner of Affordable Tires and Wheels in Hempstead. A pair of thieves could jack up a car, remove all four wheels and be gone in less than two minutes, Martz said.

“A dark street or a dark driveway, even with lights . . . if no one’s watching it’s quick and quiet,” said Martz, 46, of Inwood.

Buying a set of wheel locks could “save [residents] a lot of headaches,” Martz said. An average set of tires and rims costs about $3,500, he said.

Suffolk County car dealerships have also seen an increase in tire and rim thefts in the past few months, said Joseph Zurl, a detective sergeant with Suffolk County police.

Dealerships from Huntington to St. James have been the main targets, and, in May, 40 tires and rims from 10 vehicles were stolen from a lot in Commack, Zurl said.

“I don’t recall this many thefts of tires and rims in the last 20 years that I’ve been a police officer,” he said. “It’s definitely . . . something that’s noticed.”

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