Oct. 18--NEW HAVEN -- Police have been investigating thefts of wheels from Honda Fit vehicles over the past three weeks in the neighborhoods of Newhallville, East Rock and one case in Fair Haven.
Police spokesman Officer David Hartman said these types of thefts are being reported throughout the country and were prevalent about a year ago in New Haven. Hartman said police suspect the specialty wheel is in high demand because its value has gone up. The wheels are compatible with several other vehicle models that are often customized for illegal street racing.
Mindi Englart, who lives in the East Rock neighborhood, said she was on her way to work at 7:15 a.m. Thursday when she realized her tires were missing from her Honda Fit, which had been parked on the street overnight.
"A neighbor offered me his car [to get to work]," Englart said. "I have really nice neighbors and actually two other people offered me their cars."
Englart said she doesn't have rental insurance but she has very good friends.
It will be a week and thousands of dollars before Englart said she will be able to get her car back.
"It was not just the tires but the rest of the car that was really damaged," Englart said. "Whatever they put the car up on caused damage."
Englart said New Haven Police took the lug nuts to help with the investigation, but they said the people who are conducting these thefts probably used gloves.
"The cops said they think the people who are doing this have a car and a truck behind the car and they do the theft in a few minutes before putting the tires in the truck," Englart said.
Englart has lived in East Rock for 15 years and said she has had three bikes stolen.
Hartman said people who may be parking in New Haven should do a few things to make sure their cars are not targets. The first is to install lug or wheel rim locks, which Hartman said are inexpensive and simple to install and can be purchased from most any auto parts store. The second is to use, install or further sensitize the car's alarm to detect motion. Hartman said motion sensors will activate the alarm if the vehicle senses movement.
Hartman also said to park the car in a well-lit and well-traveled area since thieves will think twice if their activity can easily be detected. Lastly, Hartman said report suspicious persons and vehicles to the police department and neighbors.
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