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It’s the last thing you’d expect: you come out of work after a long day, and find your car propped up on bricks or blocks. Where are your tires? Although it’s well-known that car break-ins occur, not many people worry about their tires being taken. So why are thieves stealing tires from cars, and how can you keep it from happening to you?

A yellow wheel clamp on a car tire.
Wheel clamp | Andrew Woodley/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Why are thieves stealing tires?

Geico says that thieves are stealing tires for a very simple reason; they’re easy to steal. It doesn’t take long for a person to steal tires off of a car. Geico says that “with a jack and a battery-operated tool—an impact wrench with a lot of torque—can pull off a set of wheels in 10 minutes.” Sometimes people are working in groups to make this even more efficient; they work in teams and jack up the entire car at once, then take off the tires two or even four at a time. Anything that’s not difficult to steal and can be worth a decent amount of money is at risk of being stolen. 

This leads to another reason that thieves are targeting tires; they’re worth some money. People are always looking for good deals on tires. In addition to buying tires on ebay or other websites, people often sell tires they don’t need on social media or websites like Craislist. This makes it easy for someone who has stolen tires to sell them without garnering attention. 

How much money are stolen tires worth?

The upside of buying tires secondhand, or from a person rather than a dealer or shop, is the savings. The upside of selling tires through alternative means is profit – Geico says that a set of tires can go for $1,000-$5,000 or more. That’s a pretty serious incentive for someone looking to make quick money. 

On top of the profit, there’s not as much risk as selling other stolen goods. Tires aren’t traceable – they don’t have any tracking numbers or IDs on them that make them easy to identify after they’ve been removed from a car. 

How can you prevent someone from stealing your tires?

If you’d like to save your tires from being stolen (and who wouldn’t), an important step you can take is to park in a well-lit area in a highly trafficked place. Sometimes you may be parking somewhere fairly remote, like a train station parking lot. Try to park in a spot where your car is visible from the street or by people walking to and from the train. If it’s nighttime, try to park under a light, to make your car a less attractive target.

You can also buy lug nut locks. Geico says these will cost you $100 total for your four tires. You can either put them on yourself or have a mechanic put them on for you. 

You can turn your wheels to a 45-degree angle. This makes it harder for thieves to get into the tire to remove them. If you can park in an area that makes it harder for a thief to have access to your car, that can also help prevent someone from stealing your tires. 

You can also buy an alarm with a sensor that will go off if thieves try to jack up your car to remove your tires. These sensors are attached to the wheels themselves. 

If there’s been a rash of tire thieves in your neighborhood, or you just really like having tires on your car, keeping these tips in mind can keep you from being in the position of discovering your car undriveable, and your tires long gone.


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