By on May 2, 2019

Over $120,000 in tires and wheels were stolen off vehicles parked at Matt Bowers Chevrolet in Slidell, Louisiana, on Saturday night — an impressive feat, you have to admit. According to various local reports, surveillance footage shows two subjects walking across the parking lot in order to cut the locks to a side entrance, where they brought in a U-Haul. Roughly 40 minutes later, the truck exited the lot onto a service road with more than 124 stolen rounds.

Based on the quick turnaround, authorities believe the suspects must have snuck onto the lot several hours earlier to prep the tires for transport. They’re operating under the impression that the individuals are likely from out of state and part of a ring that conducted similar crimes in Texas and Oklahoma. 

KNOE News reported on a Wednesday press conference featuring Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal, who suggests that the thieves were professionals and made a clear effort to minimize their presence at the scene of the crime. He added that the thieves manipulated the property’s lighting to help avoid detection and noted that the alarms and several cameras were deactivated.

“I believe it was targeted, but it’s not the dealership that was targeted, it’s the vehicle,” Fandal said. “Similar incidents have occurred across the country, specifically in Texas and Oklahoma, and it was the exact M.O.”

In February, Cutshaw Chevrolet in Grapeland, Texas, saw roughly 16 Chevy vehicles stripped of their wheels. CNN reported that, similar to the Louisiana incident, the thieves left the vehicles on wooden blocks.

“They are very selective on tires,” said Michael Cutshaw, general manager of the Texas dealership. “They go for the 20s and 22s that are on cast aluminum wheels.”

Matt Bowers, owner of the Louisiana dealership, is currently offering a $25,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the suspects who robbed him. “I like to follow up and say that we won’t put up with it here,” Fandal said during the news conference. “This won’t be the first time we travel out of state to come find you.”

[Images: Slidell Police Department]

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42 Comments on “Thieves Steal 124 Wheels From Louisiana Car Dealer In One Night...”

  • avatar

    Impalas? I could understand the Silverados and Tahoes, but, Impalas?

    • 0 avatar

      20 in Impala rim is roughly $250 for a replacement.

      Or you can sell them to the sad guy with an LT 4 cyl model so it can look more premium than it really is.

      Now that the W-Impalas are being slowly culled from the roads the current Impala is gaining more street cred with those who are 2nd/3rd owners. Pretty popular here in NM to tint the heck out of the windows and let your Baby Momma drive your kids around in it. (Along with low trim 300s/Chargers and current Taurus.)

      • 0 avatar

        Around here it’s popular to put larger diameter wheels off of newer GM vehicles onto older ones: Escalade or Yukon Denali rims on an old GMT400 Tahoe for example. I actually think the base model (17 inch or so) alloys off of a basic Silverado look great on an older GM truck. Maybe the same phenomenon takes place for the sedans? Although I have not personally seen this. The new thing around here is to put chrome wheels with white wall/yellow stripe low profile tires onto used Jaguar XJs, and I even saw the same treatment on a fairly new A4 of all things.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not the only thing that doesn’t add up. Nearly $4,000 per vehicle? I hope their insurance isn’t paying that much. Then the dealer will just put custom wheels on them, plus Chinese tires and likely up-charge/overcharge the buyer.

      Yeah they should get wheels stolen more often.

      • 0 avatar

        “… the dealer will just put custom wheels on them, plus Chinese tires and likely up-charge/overcharge the buyer.”

        Yeah, that’s exactly what dealers did in my region when they were hit by such thefts. Garish Custom wheels, El Cheapo tires. Padded MSRP with “Dealer-Installed” options.

        But those thefts never made headlines or led the news. What makes Louisiana so special?

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      I only see one Impala in that picture. Most of those cars are Malibus, and base Malibus at that.

    • 0 avatar

      I do wonder what happens to the cars after something like this happens.

      So el-cheapo replacement rimz and Goodgear tires!

      “Our pain is — bend over!”

  • avatar

    The primary suspect should be GM. $120K for 124 wheels and tires? Those wheels were priced for insurance fraud.

  • avatar

    Will be watching local craigslist for excessive 20’s and 22’s. I wouldn’t mind 25k off a new Silverado or Colorado.

  • avatar

    Quite a feat of planning, logistics, and production. Tesla could have used these thieves last year.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    OEM wheels are terribly expensive from the dealer. The claimed loss amount doesn’t seem out of line.

  • avatar

    Wait a minute! Are you saying that the dealer did not install wheel locking lugnuts like they tried to sell me? Or that they do not work all that well to begin with ?

    • 0 avatar

      The nitrogen makes them lighter.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, but no the typical “locking” lug nuts do not lock at all. They have a smooth outer surface so the typical six point socket will not grab and turn it. They are easily removed by hammering on an undersized 12 point socket or better yet one of those sockets designed to remove a rounded off nut.

      • 0 avatar

        The anti-theft locknuts that came with my 2016 Tundra wheel package would only TIGHTEN with the socket or lug wrench.

        In order to take them off you had to insert the key and twist it to the left to reposition the internal pins so the locknut would LOOSEN. Similar to a ratchet handle mechanism, except with a key.

        Once torque-tightened to 110lb-ft, there was no way in hell to get that locknut off unless you had the key or broke-off the stud. It would just spin when trying to loosen it without the key.

  • avatar

    each of those wheels has a unique serial number in a RF tire pressure sensor. Should be easy to locate once they come in for service.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Three tires per minute, including the jacking up and use of the properly-sized wooden blocks, is pretty impressive.

    Perversely, I respect this much more than white-collar crime.

    One tip for them: The lug nuts would have been worth a small fortune.

  • avatar

    I’ve often thought that car thieves should be punished in the same way they victimize people.

    Grab them out of their beds in the middle of the night, drive them to some warehouse in a part of town Where They Keep It Real, cut every body part off of and out of them that can be sold on the black market and torch the rest in a back alley some place.

    Either that, or just publicly burn them at the stake.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Or simply have someone take the wheels off their car every time they have to go to court then force them to deal with it.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah but what’s the appropriate punishment for:
      – The OEM who raises prices while stripping content?
      – The F&I manager who just ‘sold’ you croak & choke?
      – The captive finance arm and the dealership who helped you out with a little ‘rate administration’?

      There is more than one kind of theft…

  • avatar

    If the thieves left it behind, that’s a good ad for the pictured Harbor Freight Aluminum Jack!

    “So fast, dependable, and lightweight, you can use it to steal over 120 wheels in 40 minutes!”

    • 0 avatar

      Harbor Freight? That could have come down on one of the little SOBs, and crushed him like a grape! (I remember such an incident in a similar situation like this, maybe a year ago.)

      • 0 avatar

        You don’t have to believe it but I’ve owned 2 aluminum and 1 steel jack from HF, and over the past 15 years + many winter changeovers between 7 family cars, they all hold up fantastic. I have never had actually replace one.

        I definitely can’t say the same for my freaking Porter Cable impact wrench though, I’ve lost two of those, grr.

        • 0 avatar

          My HF 4-amp metal cutting shears work better than my Milwaukee 6.8-amp metal cutting shears. Plus the HF’s cut 14-gauge steel; the Milwaukee’s are only rated for 18-gauge.

          (I see that HF has a new ‘Bauer’ 5-amp model – some of their new stuff is a step up in quality and is fairly impressive.)

          You really can’t just go by brand-name or country of origin anymore – it comes down to the individual supplier and tool.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve had nothing but great service out of my HF low profile jack, same with my brother who actually uses his in a high use duty cycle.

      • 0 avatar

        Harbor Freight tools tend to have uneven quality. Some examples of the same tool will be fine, and others will break or just not work very long or at all (mini vise grips, for example, or their tiny “150 PSI” air compressor).
        Even on their own site the reviews are all over the board. I have posted some that somehow never made it into publication… could it have been because they were less than 4 stars?

  • avatar

    Who knew Malibu wheels were so popular? And that gray Blazer actually looks strangely better without rims.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Wheel of Misfortune.

  • avatar

    Impala’s ride on 20″ wheels these days? I think *that* is the crime!

    Sadly this is pretty impressive stunt to pull that many sets of wheels off in such a short period of time without being seen. Cordless impact tools surely made this job possible. Gotta have guts to use a short block of wood to hold the car up.

    • 0 avatar

      Back when I was a sales rep and part of my territory included the less than desirable area I’d see cars propped up on a pair of milk crates that were frequently semi collapsed.

      My bet is that they came in and removed all of the lug nuts before they came in with the truck. They may have even done much of the jacking and blocking.

  • avatar

    Must be some record: 124 wheels by two men within 40 minutes. Wow!

    • 0 avatar

      No report of how many guys where in the U-Haul… had to be more people. Likely a crew of 6 – jack man, impact gun guy X2, someone rolling the tires back to the U-Haul plus one guy stacking all the loot in the back plus the driver creeping the U-Haul from car to car?

      Plus look how close the cars are parked to each other, they must have jacked from the front and rear – not the side. I guess if you don’t care about vehicle damage you can jack pretty quickly. Video would have looked like a NASCAR pit stop with guys running around and lug nuts flying off.

  • avatar

    The U-Haul is the clue – did the cameras catch the license plate? Somebody had to create a paper trail to rent that thing.
    But does the local fuzz care enough to bother investigating?

  • avatar

    Obviously we need stricter licensing and background checks for buyers of cordless impact guns.

  • avatar

    Talk about quick work. Those dudes should work for NASCAR.

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