Tag Archives: rims

Tire and rim theft still major problem in Howard Beach area

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata/ Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Seeing a car on cinder blocks has become almost the norm in south Queens, according to police, as the Howard Beach area has been hit with a string of tire and rim thefts.

Since Dec. 1, there have been about 59 tire and rim theft cases throughout the 106th Precinct. Lindenwood has experienced the brunt of the crime hit, as 21 of the 59 thefts have taken place in the neighborhood. The number of these cases has increased, as the three months before Dec. 1 saw 27 thefts in the precinct.

“This has really been hurting us,” said Deputy Inspector Jeffrey D. Schiff, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct. “We’re going to keep after this and continue to throw different operations at these criminals.”

Along with extra officers, Schiff has expanded his patrol in the Lindenwood area, especially during early morning hours when most crimes take place. He has been sending more crime teams out — both plain-clothed and uniformed officers — who have been on the lookout for cars with “reasonable suspicion” as it is not easy for officers to catch the preps in the act.

Police said it takes mere seconds for experienced thieves to jack up a car, put it on bricks and pull the tires off. The crooks work in small crews, which shortens the amount of time it takes to steal the tires and flee the area.

But just last week, Schiff said, the 106th Precinct caught a group of three men from Brooklyn who did a tire jacking in the Howard Beach area. They stopped a car coming out of a parking lot in Howard Beach for reasonable suspicion as it was in the early hours of the morning and there was no reason for a car to be in that lot.

Upon their search, the officers found four tires and rims from a Toyota. They arrested the men, who didn’t have a major history of tire theft on their records, and later returned the tires to the person whose car they were stolen from near 157th Avenue in Howard Beach.

This saved the car owner a large sum of money as replacing tires and rims can cost up to $3,000, according to Det. Kenneth Zorn of the 106th Precinct Community Affairs Unit.

The 106th Precinct continues to send out fliers warning residents that late model Hondas, Nissans, Toyotas and Mercedes are being targeted for their rims. They recommend that car owners use wheel locks, motion sensor lights or an alarm with a mercury tilt switch to make their cars harder targets.

Schiff said he will continue to beef up patrol around the Lindenwood and Howard Beach areas and is investigating different ways he can lure these perps into a trap. He has called the Queens District Attorney’s office about the three recently arrested thieves and asked for “aggressive prosecution and high bail” to deter other thieves from coming into the area and trying to steal tires.

“We will continue to monitor the area and have officers there,” said Schiff. “Hopefully we can catch more of these criminals.”


Car tires and rims become big target for thieves in southern Queens

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Joe Thompson

Move over NASCAR pit crews, there’s a new team pulling wheels off of cars and they’re doing it in record time across southern Queens neighborhoods.

While auto theft is on the decline across the city, there has been a new wave of thefts targeting cars that is taking place in and around Howard Beach. But this time, thieves take the wheels and leave the cars behind.

“Old school crime on the rise,” wrote one resident on the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol Facebook page.

“Nothing new in Lindenwood,” wrote another.

The 106th Precinct sent out fliers warning residents and car owners about the thefts, identifying the types of cars being targeted and providing pointers on how to guard against the theft of wheels and tires.

“It costs close to $3,000 to replace those rims and tires,” said Detective Kenny Zorn from the 106th Precinct. “We’re out there preaching crime prevention and have unmarked and marked cars patrolling the areas more frequently.”

The 106th Precinct has also been out in Lindenwood passing out the fliers to residents warning of the crime. They say Lindenwood is one of the easiest areas to hit for thieves because of the multi-family houses.

In the last 28-day period, Zorn said there have been four reported tire removals in cars in the Lindenwood area alone.

The civilian patrol reported two cars stripped of their wheels in the last two weeks, and comments on some of the pictures posted show the crime is happening at a higher rate throughout the neighborhood.

“This has to be a group of people working together because they get these tires off in seconds,” said Joe Thompson, president of the patrol. “It’s been going on for a long time, but now it seems to be happening almost every night.”

Jacking up a car, putting it on bricks and pulling the tires off can occur in seconds with experienced thieves.

Thompson said that while he was on patrol he got a call from a resident of Ozone Park about four males in the process of taking tires off a car. He notified 911 immediately and drove over to the scene. Arriving no more than six minutes later, Thompson said the thieves were already gone and observed the car on bricks and tilted forward.


On the flier, the police warn that late model Hondas, Nissans, Toyotas and Mercedes are being targeted for their rims. They recommend that car owners use wheel locks, motion sensor lights, or an alarm with a mercury tilt switch to make their cars harder targets.

“It’s scary,” he said. “All these cars are brand-new, and it’s terrible for these residents. It affects their insurance and just makes things more difficult for them.”

Thompson said that his patrol has been watching for suspicious cars around the neighborhood and has been documenting license plates for the police. He said he has no real leads on who these thieves might be, but he believes they circle the area and pick out which cars they want to hit before they strike.

“We get calls from people every night, telling us of suspicious cars around the neighborhood or ones parked in front of their houses for a long period of time,” he said. “We’ve been collecting the information and are talking to the police to hopefully stop these criminals.

Anyone with information about this crime is urged to call CRIME STOPPERS at 1-800-577-TIPS. Zorn also said if anyone sees the crime going on to call 911 immediately. If you want more information on how to prevent the crime, call the 106th Precinct’s crime prevention number at 718-845-2223.


City fills more than 21,000 potholes in Queens

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

More than 21,000 pesky potholes in Queens have been filled so far during this year’s snowier than usual winter, the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) said.

Nearly 2,000 in the borough were fixed last weekend, as part of the city’s season-long repair efforts, a department spokesperson said.

Since January, the 1,000-member roadway crew has set a record pace, working around the clock to fix more than 75,000 potholes along the city’s rocky roads, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

“These tireless public servants … will be filling many more given the snowstorms the city has already faced this winter, and the wear and tear that inflicts,” Trottenberg said.

Potholes typically pop up around February and die down by April, though the timeline is dependent on weather, experts say.

They form when water, that slips into cracks under the road, freezes and expands when the temperature changes, causing a freeze and thaw cycle that damages the road.

It becomes a hole when heavy traffic rolls over the weakened spot.

“It’s crazy, especially now after all the snow. Forget about it,” said Jose Soto, who drives from Flushing to Astoria. “It ruins your tires. You can get in an accident. It’s annoying. You have to zigzag.”

It typically takes a few minutes for crews to fill, compact and seal a pothole, a DOT spokesperson said.

More work is expected to be done next week on residential streets and major roadways, including the Long Island Expressway’s (LIE) eastbound service road, between Little Neck Parkway and the Nassau County border, and 149th Street at 27th Avenue in Linden Hill, the DOT said.

“It’s like a minefield on the LIE,” said driver Risa Doherty, who commutes from Roslyn in Nassau County to Bayside. “Cars are swerving around the potholes at high speeds.”

To report a pothole, call 3-1-1 or visit nyc.gov.

Craters generally have to be at least one foot in diameter and three inches deep to be fixed, according to the DOT’s website.



Two home invasions, three rim thefts in NE Queens since Monday

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Two homes were burglarized and three cars had their rims and tires stolen since Monday in northeast Queens, the 109th Precinct said.

A man was seen fleeing a home near 23rd Avenue and 127th Street in College Point after being startled by an alarm and jumping into a late 90s model GM.

A second home invasion took place on Lee Street in College Point. The suspect fled when confronted by the victim.

The tire and rim thefts — one in Whitestone, two in College Point — occurred during the middle of the night. The precinct urged residents to install lug nut locks and alarms equipped with tilt sensors to help prevent these thefts.


Rash of rims and tires being stolen in south Queens

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

If you live in Howard Beach, Ozone Park or Lindenwood, police are cautioning that you keep an eye on your car — and be wary of where you store your wheel lock key.

There has been an increased number of thefts in rims and tires from late-model Nissan Maximas, Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys, police said.

Thieves have allegedly been taking tires from cars, on the side that does not face the owner’s house, so drivers may not notice until they are already in the vehicle. Police said one of the main problems is car owners storing their wheel lock key in the glove compartment. Because of this, police said, passenger side windows may be broken to get to the key. While it is a convenient place to store it, vandals have broken into passenger side windows to look for the key, police said.

The cost to replace a full set of rims and tires can be upwards of thousands of dollars, both police and auto dealers confirm.

Anthony Panarella, executive manager of Nissan of Queens in Ozone Park, said car owners should go to their dealer to get the auto-manufactured wheel lock, as opposed to going to a place like Pep Boys, where each wheel lock has the same key. A dealer-made wheel lock, he said, has its own unique key. If lost, the dealer has to break the lock and install a new one.

“Whatever brand your vehicle is,” he said, “go to your dealer and purchase your manufacturer wheel lock.”

One of the dealership’s cars was broken into last week. All four rims and wheels were stolen and the passenger-side window was broken into.

If someone is going to keep a wheel lock key in the car, Panarella said, they should keep it somewhere safe other than the glove compartment or center console.