H.E.A.T. is Michigan's statewide auto theft prevention program that coordinates citizen action with law enforcement agencies through a confidential toll-free tip line for reporting information on stolen vehicles, chop shops, and suspected auto theft activities including insurance fraud, identity theft and carjackings.
"Thieves are always looking for new ways to target Michigan drivers," said Terri Miller, executive director of H.E.A.T. "Drivers need to be aware of the growing trend of tires and rims being stolen from private car owners, auto dealers and rental cars alike."
While vehicle thefts in Michigan are in a five-year decline, the city of Detroit's Commercial Auto Theft unit has already handled approximately 114 reported rim and tire thefts during just the first six months of 2013. The sharp uptick in auto theft-related crime is not occurring anywhere else in the country at this time, according to the ACRA.
"Although the number of auto thefts in Michigan is declining, we are seeing evolving trends in unconventional auto theft-related crime occurring solely in the Metro Detroit area," said Bob Muhs, ACRA board member and chairman of the security committee. "Most of the reported thefts include tires and rims, but thefts of VIN plates, mirrors and license plates also have been reported."
These thefts are also increasing as thieves can make a profit by selling them to crooked dealers and repair shops. Because not all wheel and tire shops keep an inventory book to identify sellers of the items, cases can be difficult to investigate.
"This has become a huge problem, and it is happening to vehicle owners across Metro Detroit, including the suburbs. These unconventional auto thefts have taken off because stealing rims and tires is an easy way for thieves to make a quick profit," added Sgt. James Vogler, manager of the Action Auto Theft Task Force for Grosse Pointe Park.
Because thieves target easy-to-steal tires and rims, H.E.A.T. recommends that drivers park in a garage whenever possible, a parking lot with an attendant, or in well-lit areas with pedestrian traffic. It's important for citizens to report what they know about these crimes to police, and to H.E.A.T., since it's almost impossible to stop a thief who is determined to take the wheels from a vehicle.
H.E.A.T. encourages anyone with information on suspicious or criminal auto theft-related activity in your community to report the tip to H.E.A.T. at 1-800-242-HEAT or www.1800242HEAT.com. All tips are confidential.
H.E.A.T. works with Michigan law enforcement agencies to follow-up on tips. Tipsters are awarded up to $1,000 if the tip leads to the arrest of or issuance of a warrant for a suspected car thief or a person suspected of auto theft-related insurance fraud. H.E.A.T. rewards up to $2,000 for information leading to the issuance of a warrant for a carjacking suspect. Rewards of up to $10,000 are issued if a tip results in the arrest and binding over for trial of suspected theft ring or chop shop operators. The H.E.A.T. tip line is monitored by the Michigan State Police and funded by Michigan's auto insurance companies.
SOURCE H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts)