The arrest of the tire and rim bandit who has prowled the streets of the 49th and 45th precincts over the last nine months is imminent, according to Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson of the 49th Precinct.
Starting in late 2010 within these two precincts, a small group of nighttime prowlers began to routinely steal tires and rims off of imported cars. The group would drive up to a car, loosen the bolts holding the tire rims, then return an hour or more later to retrieve the coveted stash.
On Sunday, May 1, officers of the 49th Precinct arrested four men red-handed while stealing the wheels off a 2008 Honda Fit on the corner of Arnow and Wallace avenues. Weeks after the arrests, Deputy Inspector Nicholson confirmed that the robbery was a one-time deal and did not follow the same pattern as the other robberies.
Recently, officers made another arrest of a man confirmed to be connected to the recurring robberies. Through the suspect, Nicholson learned some critical information about the mastermind of the entire operation that has plagued the Bronx for almost a year.
“We’ve been working very hard on this one. They are definitely aware that we know what they’re up to,” Nicholson said. “It’s been calm lately, but these robberies have been a constant problem and this needs to end.”
Nicholson learned that the stolen products have either been sold on Craigslist, or through a few auto garages within the borough. Unlike a car, which has a Vehicle Identification Number, tires and rims do not have any form of identification, making it harder to track them down if they are stripped from a vehicle.
“It’s a profitable business, for sure. Our main target has easily made thousands of dollars from this in the last few months,” Nicholson said. “It’s very hard to prove tire and rim ownership because they are very similar on cars of the same make and model of that year.”
On Thursday, June 16, Nicholson led a sting operation at Tri-Star Auto Parts Warehouse on 2020 Webster Avenue, a location confirmed to be an auto garage allegedly used to move stolen tires.
The officers went into the auto garage with a search warrant and attempted to sell four Honda Civic tires and rims. According to Nicholson, one man was arrested for criminal possession of stolen tires, but denied any knowledge of the person that’s on the 49th Precinct’s radar.
“It’s common for them to deny knowing anything,” he said. “We are still working on our case and hope to have our target arrested soon.”
Until then, Nicholson asks that residents begin to use a free and efficient remedy that was recently discovered. For any car owners, especially of Honda models, simply turn front wheels fully inward will actually prevent thieves from removing the tires.