By on August 1, 2016

2016 GMC Yukon, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Opportunistic thieves are making off with high-end wheels from dealer lots more than ever, but one Ohio man’s nighttime excursion at a General Motors dealer just cost him his life.

Employees at Ron Marhofer Buick GMC opened their Canton, Ohio dealership per usual on Saturday morning, not knowing that a 43-year-old man lay dead under one of their Yukons.

According to the Canton Repository, the man, identified as Richard E. Ritch, was killed as he attempted to remove the first of the Yukon’s wheels at some point the previous night. The county coroner’s office claims the SUV fell off the jack and impacted his head, crushing him.

In a gruesome twist, the dealership was open for hours before the man’s body was discovered at about noon. Sales manager Kyle Green said a sales associate only noticed the body when a vehicle blocking their view of the man drove away.

While the grisly discovery was “obviously shocking,” according to Green, the dealership stayed open and sales continued. The service department checked over the Yukon for damage. Likely, the new owner won’t have a clue of the vehicle’s brief, but shocking, history.

This attempted theft looks like a one-man crime of opportunity, but other dealers face organized teams of wheel snatchers.

In early June, a group of thieves worked for two to three hours stripping a San Antonio Cadillac dealership of its wheels. Dozens of vehicles were left on blocks following that theft, the second of its kind in that city in less than a year. The key target was full-size SUVs with 20-inch wheels. Police said the thieves came prepared with all the right tools, as well as a truck to haul away the loot.

Stolen wheels are usually offered for half price on the black market.

The KENS 5 report mentions another GM dealer wheel theft involving 45 vehicles in a San Antonio suburb the previous November. Similar thefts occurred in the Houston and Austin areas, including the removal of wheels from 50 Ford vehicles in February.

Atlanta dealerships, as well as private owners, reported a rash of wheel thefts in that city this year.

H/T to @SexCpotatoes

[Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars]

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167 Comments on “Dealership Wheel Theft Turns Deadly in Ohio...”


  • avatar
    yamahog

    Thank goodness nothing of value was lost.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      I see what you did there. You opined that a life has no value because the person attempted to steal some wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        Starting the month of August with a feel good story. Thanks, TTAC!

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Occupational hazard! The guy obviously wasn’t using recommended procedures or PPE!

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          We definitely need some more ambulance chasers shaking down the jack industry. Should be banned, I tell you!

          Those things are almost as dangerous as cruise control……

          • 0 avatar
            operagost

            To avoid these kinds of tragedies, we need to stock safe jacks and jackstands at all auto stores, available for free, so that these poor souls won’t be forced to engage in risky behavior while they steal the wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            Free safe jack stands, no questions asked. Put them right next to the free hypodermic needles and other big city programs for big city problems.

          • 0 avatar
            Paragon

            Along with the suggested free safe jack stands, let’s ensure that a video camera is trained on those items, so that Law Enforcement and society as a whole will know what the perps look like and will later be able to identify them as such. In other words, they consent to have their picture taken in order to get free stuff.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Richie Ritch Sinks To New Low Underneath New Yukon

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/winning6.jpg

    Har har!

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    I must be turning into a Trump, but I chuckled when I read this.

  • avatar
    rcx141

    Richie Rich’s brilliant criminal career squelches to an ignominious end

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Meth is a heckuva drug!

    Something tells me this guy’s crew ran away like rats.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Christine?

  • avatar
    Midnight DeSoto

    The Lord works in mysterious ways. Whereas Darwin just gets to the point.

  • avatar
    John

    Not too long ago, TTAC ran a “Tee hee hee – I bought some wheels in a sketchy part of town” (that were probably stolen) story.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Don’t most new vehicles with alloy wheel come with factory lug nut locks? If so, how do these gangs defeat the locks so quickly?
    I’ve pulled my share of wheels to access brakes, and can’t see how one’s head would be in the path of the wheel well if the car slipped of the jack when removing the wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      Usually wheel locks are a dealer installed accessory. Sometimes dealers add them to jack up the price of the car. My Lexus has them. I don’t know why these dealerships wouldn’t have them on these trucks with expensive wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “can’t see how one’s head would be in the path of the wheel well”

      See now, that’s exactly the kind of thing that 43 year old thieves don’t understand.

      I don’t see how somebody can get crushed by an entire house but the Wicked Witch of the East found a way.

    • 0 avatar
      ericb91

      Come on. Let’s be honest now. Wheel thieves can get through wheel locks in 30 seconds. They stop the unprepared thieves, but if someone is going to a car dealer to steel a truckload of wheels and tires, they probably have ways of getting past wheel locks.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        They do. They also have ways of removing wheels that don’t involve keeping your head under the SUV.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        If they are pro’s then they should have scored a master set for whatever brand or brands they prefer so all you need is an electric impact, some sort of (hopefully) impact socket set and a jack and at least decent observation skills and your on your way to being a top notch wheel thief.

        Barring the master set they do make accessories that can defeat most wheel locks out there and if your the budding wheel thief you can make do with a cheap socket set and hammer provided you can hammer a socket over the wheel lock and wrench it free.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        There’s only a few patterns to the locks, and I’m sure resourceful folk of this ilk (at least ones smarter than this Candy Crush example) would probably have access to a complete set for all the major makes.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I think there are some “quick and dirty” ways to rip off the lug nut locks.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        It’s not hard. I lost the key to my locks once, took it to my tire dealer and he had all four off in a few minutes. Couple years later I did it again, and used his trick to get them off myself. Not real difficult to do, but you do ruin a socket.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Based on my recent shopping experience, the wheel locks (if optioned) are usually stored in a little baggie in either the glove box (Ford), or the trunk (VW), until the car is sold. In some cases, they are nonexistant (Dodge).

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Maybe Richie’s locking lug nut removal tool rolled underneath the truck?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The tools for biting into the outer surface of locking lug nuts are fairly common. Also very good odds that the key for the wheel locks is in the glove box.

  • avatar
    lemko

    An SUV fell on top of him when he was trying to steal the wheels? That’s Ritch!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Here’s another not-so-great Richard Rich:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rich,_1st_Baron_Rich

    The wheel stealer should have tried swiping copper from live wires instead.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Big wheels are more trouble than they are worth…they weigh more, increasing wear on suspension components, they are more easily damaged, tires cost more to replace, the ride quality usually suffers, and someone always wants to steal them.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      But they are sooooo koooool (say it in an Eric Cartman voice)

    • 0 avatar
      ericb91

      Whoa, take it easy with the common sense there, mate. Yukon/Suburban/Tahoe owners don’t care. It’s gotta look blingy, no matter what.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        Wheels gotta be dope, yo. You’re not supposed to think about silly things like what it will cost to replace/fix if a giant wheel gets bent. Or what a set of tires will cost. I guess that’s why Sailun and Starfire tires exist.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        People dropping $70k+ on an SUV don’t care if they have to replace a wheel or tire every 4 or 5 years due to damage. If that group of buyers cared about keeping future repair costs low, Range Rover wouldn’t exist and Land Cruisers (tall sidewalls, super reliable) would sell more than 2000 units a year in the US.

        Additionally, even on the 22″ wheels, the Tahoe still has 1.5″ more sidewall height than my FR-S on stock 205/45-17. The Tahoe’s overall wheel/tire diameter is 32″ stock versus my FR-S’s 24″.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Amen to this.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      In what alternate universe is something BIGGER more easily damaged than something SMALLER?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        One where tiny bullets go through large people.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        They are assuming that factory wheels are as thin and fragile as chintzy aftermarket jobs, and that isn’t true.

        Buying a set of no-name 20s from a low-class tire dealer is not the same as getting factory-style wheels produced for manufacturers.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Manufacturing wheels involve tradeoffs in strength, weight, and cost. Techniques range from forged (best) to cast (cheaper).

        Factory wheels aim to be reliable, so they are strong, favor a smaller size and aerodynamics for better mpg, but weigh more. Racing wheels are light and strong and cost the most. Large blingy wheels are not as strong to keep costs under control. Large blingy wheels also tend to have tires with very little sidewall and thus, have less protection from pot holes and curbs.

        — McCoy

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        When you make the wheel larger, the tire sidewall becomes smaller. Now the wheel is much closer to that pothole.

        As for factory wheels, I’veseen plenty modern factory wheels bend here in Michigan. My wheel guy makes a killing from straightening them.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      Wheels are unsprung weight. One thing they won’t do is wear suspension components more rapidly.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Yes, I get the ‘serves him right’ angle of the story, and I have to admit that his parents gifted him with a ridiculous name.

    But I just see a big waste of life. By 43, he should have figured out how to be of service to his community and to make better decisions. Just sad, really.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Anybody know if Ron Marhofer is actually still around, or just a name on the front?
    I bought a car from him personally back in 1982 when he had a small Chevy store in Stow Ohio.
    Nice guy.

  • avatar
    Bearadise

    And that was the last time Richie Ritch and Slippery Jack did a job together. As the song goes, “Yukon’t always get what you want.”

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Good thing he didn’t try to steal the wheels of a Cadillac ELR otherwise he might not have been found for months.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I’ve driven past local dealers where wheels have been stolen. Pick up tailgates are easy prey. Years ago a local Ford dealer lost a few dozen in one night. The local Ram dealer was frequent prey for diesel cats before they switched to DEF. Another popular theft item are DVD systems in mini-vans.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Moral of the story? Always use jackstands.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Everything turns deadly in Ohio. It seems like Florida with a little snow.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      But Florida is sort of like Cuba, with more democracy.
      So Ohio is like Cuba?

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        OK, Ohio is like Cuba with more handguns but crummier cigars.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Southern Florida is like Cuba. Much of the rest is like Ohio with palm trees. The panhandle is more like Alabama though.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Any place with palm trees is evil. I know this.

          • 0 avatar
            DukeGanote

            Don’t forget that the Navy Blue Angels hightail it out-of Pensacola over winter. They relocate to El Centro California. Pensacola winters are enough to test the sturdiness of anyone, I guess…(eye roll).

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Had to be all those coconuts that fell on your head. You’d think you would have learned after the 8th or 9th time. But not you.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Palm trees steal souls, at least that’s what the hibiscus trees told me.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Thought palm trees were more into Hyundais.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I suppose I should visit other bits of Florida which meet the following qualifications:

          -Not as humid.
          -Not as foreigny.
          -More education.

          Which part of Florida is for me?

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            You will never escape the humidity in Florida.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Back to North Carolina it is, then.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “You will never escape the humidity in Florida.”

            Sure you will. It’s called “January.” Sorta like the opposite of how it rains in southern Arizona.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            JimC2-

            That’s a good point. Even if there is some humidity in January, it’s better than snow.

            I also love monsoon season in Southern Arizona.

          • 0 avatar

            The Space Coast, where the Kennedy Space Center is located. Not foreigny & lots of tech & defense companies here, so we have education covered. Humidity, on the other hand, might knock us out of the running.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            @Adam: I’d take the opposite position. Here in MN, we start to wilt at 85% humidity, but just like Garrison Keillor not-so-subtly implies in his news from Lake Wobegon, we look forward to winter’s ferocity weeding out the unworthy, be it with snow, ice, or any combination thereof.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …Even if there is some humidity in January, it’s better than snow….

            In your opinion. To me, snow is like money. It is possible to have too much, but its hard to reach that level.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Always nice to see the ole’ hometown make the news. This is just poor, rust-belt Canton encroaching on bedroom community North Canton. Been happening for a long time, since all the jobs went away, and it really got bad after NAFTA. That’s why I left. Anyone who wants to know why certain unorthodox and acrimonious political candidates gain traction, it’s areas like this.

    I’m surprised this happened where it did. It’s a high-traffic area even at night. As many times as I’ve driven past this dealership, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen any new Buicks/GMCs out front. Always used cars. Even when it was a Saturn dealership. I don’t even know where they’re keeping their new cars. I had assumed they were in a locked area out back.

    I guess I’m naive, because even recently I would walk the Ford dealership across the street from there. It used to be the kind of area where you could do that at night. I guess that’s over.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      It’s kind of odd to see Canton pop up in such a way, I’m getting married there this January! Fiance’s relatives from both sides of the family are mostly from around there, more steel workers (retired and current) in the family than you can shake a stick at. Decided to come to them rather than making folks incur the cost of traveling out to us. I really love the area to be honest, and most of all the people. Truly salt of the earth, I always look forward to trips back there and hanging out with everyone during the holidays.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Mostly good people, but it’s turns into a mess the further south into Canton you go. Downtown isn’t too bad during the day, as the city has put some effort into creating its little art district.

        I’m glad some of your relatives had a chance to retire. Most of my family is blue collar. Those who could, retired. Those who are still working, have crappy jobs because that’s all that’s left. Everyone else brain-drained their way to Columbus, Akron, or out of state.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I’ve driven through that part of Canton and you’re right it gets rough quick. We’re having the reception in a restored hotel downtown, it’s nice to see that there seems to be a genuine effort to revive the downtown area with art and music, I think (hope) more bars and restaurants will follow.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Hard to believe this goes on in Texas. Between shall-issue carry and stand-your-ground laws, both of which I heartily approve, I’m not sure I would even want to window shop a closed dealership let alone try to rip off a set of wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Statistically speaking, there is no evidence that arming a bunch of yahoos with the latest in military style assault weapons reduces crime.

      There *is* strong evidence that improving education reduces crime. That alleviating poverty reduces crime. And that improving policing methods and the justice system reduces crime.

      Not anything I expect to take hold in Texas.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “There *is* strong evidence that improving education reduces crime. That alleviating poverty reduces crime.”

        And Brazil is always the country of the future.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        It’s impossible to improve education unless (1) the students are motivated to learn, which mostly means parental support, and (2) the schools protect the motivated students from the troublemakers who don’t want to learn and don’t want anyone else to learn either.

        Poverty isn’t a problem for people with educations. It doesn’t have to be an STEM degree from a university. Many trades pay better than college degrees in fuzzy studies.

        It costs tax money to improve policing, more for training than for salaries and benefits. When budgets are tight, training is first to be cut. A cop sitting in a classroom, learning to be a better cop, isn’t out writing tickets to generate income for the government that employs him. One of the consequences of inadequate training is that many cops are poor shots more likely to hit innocent bystanders during gunfights than are the yahoos VoGo mentioned.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I can’t even teach people around here that they can’t turn left whenever they damned well feel like it.

        Some people are determined not to learn. You can lead the horse to water, but if he wants to crap in the trough, then that’s what he’ll do.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        “Statistically speaking, there is no evidence that arming a bunch of yahoos with the latest in military style assault weapons reduces crime.”

        Statistically speaking, you haven’t a clue of what you are talking about.

        “military style assault weapons: shows you don’t know a damn thing about guns. So stop acting like you know anything about guns, people or Texas. Go over to the dailykos with your SJW crap…….

        • 0 avatar
          Von

          +1 markf

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          But he has a “hot wife” and bench presses his weight… all 98 pounds.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          This term SJW you use is fascinating. People who fight for social justice, i.e., universal civil rights are American heroes. In many cases, they have died protesting to advance American ideals.

          On the other hand, the people who seek to insult others with the term SJW are the ones most threatened by civil rights for all Americans. White men with minimal skills or work ethic who seek to continue the intimidation that kept Jim Crow and the glass ceiling intact for so many years.

          Your world is crumbling around you, and you seek refuge in gun worship and Trump tweets.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            ding ding ding, we have yet another Trump mention! I think Trump’s greatest deal ever is living inside your head for free.

            Your instituted lefty biases assume: 1. I am white 2. I am not skilled 3. I have no work ethic. Civil rights for thee but not for me?

            Let’s not forgot Jim Crow, slavery and gun control (designed originally to guns out of Black hands) are institutions of the Democratic Party.

            Only you could turn a car web site into a SJW outreach program

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Spot on, MarkF.

            Here are a few facts:

            The Founder of the Democratic Party (Andrew Jackson) was a Racist Land Stealer
            The Democrats are the Party of Slavery
            Democrats Founded the KKK
            Democrats Opposed Desegregation

            Remember that when you read some of the magical thinking and misdirected opprobrium.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        And yet Chuy’s creamy jalapeno dip has never reached the far-off backwaters of VoGolandia, where kale is king and little rainbow unicorns prance and mince merrily while farting pixie dust.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Unlicensed open carry is legal in Ohio as well. The area is still adjusting to the dregs of southern Stark County moving north. Hmmm, better tell mom to start packing heat.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    Clowns to the left of me

    Jokers to the right

    Stuck in the middle with you

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    And here I thought the only 20’s worth making a mad dash with were the aftermarket ones.

    Dubs is dubs, foo.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Damn ~ I thought where I live was supposed to be bad .
    .
    Of course , we don’t have any new car dealerships ’round here….
    .
    “Any place with palm trees is evil. I know this.”.
    .

    No , it’s the _Palm_Trees_ that are evil , anyone who has one in their yard, knows this .
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Palm trees defy the laws of physics. Have you ever seen the root structure of a palm tree? Please tell me how something so puny, planted in sandy “soil” can withstand a stiff breeze let alone a category three hurricane.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Palm trees don’t have bark; they have *shudder* SCALES. They are not of this planet.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        But that’s one of the neatest things about them- they don’t always withstand a hurricane. Then they become Nature’s bowling pins!!

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I used to live in a condo in a two-building complex with a road that ran down the middle. The road was edged with twelve palm trees, of which seven remained when I moved in. I was there during a storm which took down one of the seven. These were TALL palm trees, but the hole left where the palm tree was ripped out of the ground resembled nothing so much as a proportionate pencil point in the yard. I never trusted those trees again.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Uh,oh ~
        .
        I’m beginning to see Paul’s point about me making too many posts…..
        .
        Anyway , I have way more familiarity with palm trees than I wish .
        .

        AFAICT ,they’re mostly fiber , filled with water . this makes them horrible to cut down ~ I ruined a chain saw , several expensive double headed axes and about 6 really good machetes taking one down , the next time I just paid a guy .
        .
        My main complaint with them isn’t the falling fronds nor the buckling sidewalks , it’s the _RATS_ they attract and shelter .
        .
        -Nate

  • avatar

    About 15 years ago, when I was in college, I had someone steal all 4 wheels and tires off my then-new PT Cruiser. Woke up to drive to my economics class on a Friday morning and found it on blocks. But they only had 3 blocks, so they jammed one under the center on one side and put a big dent in it, too.

    I’m not a big fan of wheel thieves.

  • avatar

    I read this story in the Sunday paper someone thoughtfully left lying around at work, and I must say, the comments have not disappointed (good and bad). I didn’t catch the ‘Richie Rich’ pun opportunities until I reread it & was tipping off @TTAC on twitter.

    I did hesitate to share it because it’s a morbid story, but then again, this did happen during The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week. Though how you can call it a “week” when the festival events are nonexistent from Monday through Wednesday, I will never know http://www.profootballhoffestival.com/schedule

  • avatar
    zip94513

    I feel bad for the dealership. For the thief, I’m happy as hell you died.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    This is a really novel way to murder someone and be sure there will be minimal investigation and few will care. There are other variations that are just as effective.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    You reap what you sow.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      That’s a strong statement. The vast majority of people in developed countries don’t think that a thief deserves death.

      We don’t know this guy’s life; only how it ended. To wind up here, I suspect life dealt him a lousy hand, but also that he played the cards he was dealt poorly.

      A waste of human life. I wish he had ‘almost’ died that night, seen the light and turned his life around. Maybe that’s unrealistic, but I remain optimistic for people like Richie Ritch.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        If he almost died, then the taxpayers have to cover the huge medical expenses of a criminal.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        It’s unfortunate, but he shouldn’t have put himself in that position.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        Maybe his death wasn’t in vain. Maybe it is a teaching point or even “a wake-up call” to others who find themselves in his poor economic condition. Maybe at least one person will see the light that ripping off whoever you can most easily rip off is not the solution to obtain a few bucks needed to score some drugs or whatever.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        As to the comment “I suppose life dealt him a lousy hand,” I think it’s not so much what you were dealt but how you play the cards; in other words, do the best with what you have. As a student of history, we should all be aware that many of the people who rose to the heights of accomplishment were often from very humble beginnings. Learning to “Do The Right Thing” – which is also a Spike Lee movie I saw when it first came out – is of paramount importance in one’s life. Not learning that can lead to very bad outcomes. “You reap what you sow” also comes to mind.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          If you had read the complete sentence, it said “To wind up here, I suspect life dealt him a lousy hand, but also that he played the cards he was dealt poorly.”

          We all have accountability for our lives. But those of us who are more fortunate should be very careful about judging others.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Thanks… I guess we’re all guilty, in a way. We all crushed him, and we all got a complimentary bumper sticker that said, “I helped crush Richard’s head!”

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I see that the nightly attacks on decency, logic and Vogo have begun.

            Why don’t you make an original, productive post about cars today?

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            “decency”, “logic” and “vogo” should never be used in the same post, let alone sentence.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            ““I helped crush Richard’s head!””

            The Head Crusher from Kids in the Hall would be proud.

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