Massive Wheel Heist Leaves Another East Texas Dealership up on Blocks

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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massive wheel heist leaves another east texas dealership up on blocks

It’s the latest in a string of similar nighttime thefts, but it’s not surprising — after all, when four hours’ work can net you hundreds of thousands of bucks, who expects thieves to stop?

This past weekend, the inventory of a General Motors dealer lot in Tyler, Texas was left up on blocks after thieves stripped 48 vehicles of their wheels, Automotive News reports.

Tyler police say an unknown number of people disabled the lot’s lighting system and made off with the wheels after about four hours. The estimated value of the wheels is somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000.

Police spokesman Don Martin told AN that the thieves showed up with a large box truck at about 1:22 a.m. They were gone before daybreak.

Wheel theft on a mass scale is commonplace in Texas, with thieves employing well-equipped teams of people to strip dozens of vehicles of rims and rubber in a single night. The wheels will fetch about 50 percent of their original value on the black market, with large SUV rims being the most popular (and lucrative).

In Tyler, southeast of Dallas, the thieves targeted 20- and 22-inch wheels, though David Bates, general manager at Peltier Chevrolet, said that many were just “ordinary” Camaro and Traverse wheels. In the past two years, similar heists hit dealers in Texas City, Georgetown, Houston, and Austin, with several reported in San Antonio. Another Tyler dealer was cleaned out last year.

Some mass wheel thefts occur in other states, but Texas seems to be ground zero for this crime. Small-scale thefts, on the other hand, are common just about everywhere. Recently, a lone man met a gruesome end under a GMC Yukon during a failed heist at a Canton, Ohio GM dealer.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
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5 of 43 comments
  • Crtfour Crtfour on Aug 26, 2016

    Sounds like typical cheap to put wheel locks on $50,000 + vehicles.

    • SC5door SC5door on Aug 27, 2016

      Wheel locks, like the locks on your house are to keep honest people---honest. You think a professional crew is going to be stopped by a wheel lock?

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Aug 26, 2016

    How much are wheels like plain 5-spokes from Tahoes and the like worth, if they're not the big 20s?

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Aug 27, 2016

    My '63 Chrysler Newport had 14" wheels. My '65 Impala had 14" wheels. My '68 Montego had 14" wheels. My '75 Buick Century had 14" wheels. My '81 Buick Regal had 14" wheels. My dad's 1925 Ford Fordor had 21" wheels. Why are we going back to wagon wheels?

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 27, 2016

    Lorenzo--It is back to the future. What is old is new again, but with a fancier package and a higher price. I don't see an advantage with the big wheels which have less side wall, more costly, more likely to blowout, and a rougher ride. My father always ordered hubcaps on his new cars because they were less likely to be stolen but eventually he had to get wheel covers because they stopped offering hubcaps on most cars.