Theft of Car Parts On A Rise


Theft of Car Parts On A Rise

West Grand Neighborhood Organization
By Esteban Moreno, ATPA VIN Technician

    As a whole car theft is down nationally. There has been a recorded rise in parts thefts since there are no real theft prevention methods by the manufacturers. The theft of custom rims and tires has had the most financial gain for the thieves and negative impact on insurance companies. Thieves can get paid from $150-$400 dollars for their work. The middle man or “fence” can resell them to dealers or collision companies for $700-$900. They in turn install the tires and rims, billing the insurance companies between $1,200-$1,300.

    Thieves have mastered the theft of rims and tires, taking only seconds. Most targeted vehicles are from dealership lots where there are multiples and vision is obscured. Thieves will rent U-haul type trucks for larger jobs. They can haul car jacks, air compressors and multiple tools used to make the thefts easier. Most of the vehicles are left on cement blocks or are dropped onto the ground after the rims and tires are removed. Other parts stolen in a similar fashion are catalytic converters. The converters have precious metals that can be collected and sold at scrap yards, most times with out question. The State is in the process of inspecting these scrap yards more since large purchases of converters must be documented much like pawn shops record them.

    Thieves also target older makes and models due to the demand for original parts. A re-manufactured part does not hold the same value as an original part. Most older vehicles are stripped for every use able part like the rims, motor, body and interior. A historical vehicle is any that are 20 years or older. Historical muscle cars and luxury vehicles are always in high demand. American made parts are easier to obtain than foreign makes. The theft rate for these types of vehicles are not as predominate as the newer vehicle rims and tires.


    How do we prevent thefts or increase the likelihood of recovery? Vin etching is still one of the top 5 ways of prevention. Recently ultra violet (UV) markings are now being used to mark rims and popular parts. These marking are invisible to the naked eye but are viewed using a UV light. If parts are UV marked and stolen, law enforcement can identify where they originate from and can be recovered. Prosecution can be used to re-coop what losses that are not recovered. These prevention methods are not limited to dealerships. Both Vin Etching and UV marking is available through the Auto Theft Prevention Authority free of charge. Call to set up an appointment for the spring. Note that the temperature must be a minimum of 50 degrees and dry.

    For any further questions regarding vehicle theft prevention call West Grand Neighborhood Organization at 616-451-0150 or e-mail the West Grand Neighborhood Organization ATPA VIN Technicians at

Funds for this program are provided by the Michigan Auto Theft Prevention Authority.