Hot Wheels: Tire Thefts on a Roll

Tires and rims are hot items, they are easily re-sold and almost impossible to trace, police said.

They can show up for sale on the Internet, or are re-sold to wheel and tire shops for quick money.

"A lot of people don't realize just how many wheels and tires are stolen on a daily basis in the metroplex," said Irving Officer David Tull. "If you go statewide, it's pretty mind-boggling."

Irving's auto theft investigators are launching a wheel-marking program to help stolen tires and rims get traced back to their owners.  They will mark the wheels with a unique identifying number, which will be listed on the National Crime Information Computer, which will increase the chances they can be recovered if stolen.

Kevin Kessler, who lives in The Colony, splurged on Monday and bought four new tires for his truck. He said he went straight home, and a few hours later, made a shocking discovery.

"I drove less than a mile home, woke up the next morning at 6 o'clock to find all the wheels and tires gone," Kessler said. "It was sitting there on landscape blocks that they'd stolen from somewhere else."

From talking to neighbors and people around town he learned it happened to others, too. He said he was surprised that he didn't hear a sound while it was happening in his own driveway.

"They disconnected my neighbor's motion light, and unscrewed the light so they were in the dark," Kessler said. "In and out in a short period of time."

Police said the wheel and tire thieves are good at what they do.

"Most people have seen pit crews at the race tracks, and that's about how fast they are," said Tull.

Any data that comes out of the wheel-marking project will be analyzed, to determine if the program makes a difference.

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