APD detective Robert Field has been investigating a string of tire and rim thefts over the past year in North Austin. The thieves have been targeting trucks and BMW's.
"I would estimate that just in the North Austin area alone, we probably had three to 400 cases," Field said.
Field says they're averaging three to four incidents a night. Sometimes bringing their own cinder blocks...other times taking landscaping rocks right out of a car owner's yard.
"Sometimes they're happening in various random locations, other times they're happening at the same complex...whether that be The Domain, which has been hit several times or it might just happen in an apartment complex parking lot," Field said.
Quitze Martinez with Das Autowerks in North Austin says his customers haven't complained of stolen wheels yet but he says someone did come in recently with some suspiciously inexpensive brand new BMW tires and rims.
"Those are expensive wheels! So he got the whole set with tires for $1,500. And I'm looking at him like, 'Wow these are like brand new,'" Martinez said.
Both APD and Martinez say wheel locks usually won't stop thieves from taking the wheel, but it does deter them.
"Thieves want something that's easy, quick and fast. They don't want to sit there and have to mess with that wheel lock. If they spend at least 20 minutes on it, that's way too long. Somebody's going to notice that something's going on," Martinez said.
After tire thieves took $100,000 worth of tires off of high end cars in Georgetown last year, Detective Field believes the cases in Austin are part of an organized ring of thieves.
"You've got to have a lot of people to be able to pull that off as well as you've got to have a large truck possibly an 18-wheeler to be able to haul off all those wheels and rims. So for that reason, I do believe that it's gonna be organized," Field said.
"You know, people work so hard to obtain something that to them it's a status of how hard they've worked. When you have to be constantly watching your back and even watching your car and your belongings, it gets really frustrating," Martinez said.
Detective Field says he's close to getting a warrant for one of his suspects. From there, he hopes he can figure out where these thieves are unloading the merchandise. If it's at a physical tire shop or if it's just on Craigslist.
He says if anyone has any information or sees someone driving through a parking garage with a truck full of cinder blocks, give police a call.