All jacked up! Ridge police pledge response to tire-and-rim thefts

All jacked up! Ridge police pledge response to tire-and-rim thefts
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

They’re rolling out.

Top brass at the 68th precinct are sending out more plainclothes officers in response to a recent rash of rim-and-tire thefts in Bay Ridge. Nogoodniks have left 20 cars on cinder blocks this year — twice as many as this time last year, officials said. Crooks are targeting Japanese cars along Shore Road — and that’s where officers will focus their efforts, the precinct’s new top cop said.

“Hondas are the top target,” said Captain Joseph Hayward, who took over the command on March 3. “We have our anti-crime team out in unmarked cars doing surveillance of the area.”

Thieves targeted Hondas in 11 of this year’s 20 thefts — and nine of those were from Honda’s CR-V models alone, Hayward said.

He suspects bandits are targeting the make for its stock rims are worth a pretty penny, according to the commanding officer who himself drives a Honda.

Such thefts are up across Southern Brooklyn, but cops know exactly what they are looking for, according to Hayward.

“They use these big 12-passenger vans so that’s what we target at night if we see them driving through a residential block,” Hayward said. “You just gotta get them.”

Bay Ridgites have noticed the uptick, too. Many are circulating photos on social media of victims’ cars teetering on concrete blocks, and the local community board office has gotten more calls lately reporting the crime, according to district manager Josephine Beckmann.

A neighborhood biker posted a photo to Facebook on Feb. 7 of a victimized car parked right outside an apartment building entrance on Shore Road near 92nd Street. The next day a woman posted a photo of her sister’s specialized handicapped van “off Shore Road” missing two sets of tires and rims.

A single tire and rim set can set a car owner back about $500 — and thieves trained to jack them can get in and out with their ill-gotten goods “in a minute,” a spokesman for the American Automobile Association told CBS News. Officials are classifying many of the thefts reported as grand larcenies — punishable by up to a four years in prison — because the ripped-off rims were worth more than $1,000, police said.

Officers are suggesting drivers replace wheel lug nuts with locking, anti-theft lug nuts, which require a special tool to remove. But the locking nuts are not a guaranteed deterrent, so car owners should be smart about where they park their rides, Hayward said.

“If they really want to get them off they can — seeing the locking nuts is not necessarily going to stop them,” he said. “You can park in more well-lit areas, put lights in front of your house — and installing video cameras is always a good thing.”

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.