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Resurgence in wheel thefts hits St. Paul

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It's a crime that hasn't been common since the 1980's but wheel thefts are happening all too frequently in part of western St. Paul.

The Pioneer Press reports tires and rims are being stolen right off of cars at a rapid pace in recent weeks.

St. Paul police Sgt. Jim Gray told the newspaper there have been more than 30 thefts or attempted thefts of wheels between Nov. 8 and Tuesday in the police department's Western District.

In those crimes, all four rims and tires are removed from the vehicle in most cases, leaving the vehicle on things like cinderblocks or landscaping blocks.

The types of vehicles that have been hit the hardest in St. Paul include Chevrolet Suburbans, Tahoes, Avalanches, Silverados, Monte Carlos, GMC Yukons and Cadillac Escalades, Gray told the Pioneer Press.

"I think...there's a high-demand market for the used Chevy tires and rims – apparently they can't make them quick enough," Gray said

While there have been other cases around the city, the Pioneer Press reports most of the problems have been south of Interstate 94 in the Summit Hill, Summit-University, Union Park, Macalester-Groveland and Highland Park neighborhoods.

Gray told the newspaper that police are looking into whether the thieves have been selling the rims online.

There has been a resurgence of the crime around the country as anonymous online marketplaces make it easier for thieves to access potential customers.

In other major cities around the country Hondas have also been a popular target, especially the new Honda Fit.

Gray advises that people try and park their vehicles in a garage to keep it safe them possible, according to the Pioneer Press. Another deterrent would be installing locking lug nuts. Gray also advises people to know what brand of tires they have and to engrave identifiable markings on their vehicle's rims.

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