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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Wheels of misfortune

Students+and+community+members+have+reported+18+cases+of+stolen+wheels+and+rims+across+College+Station.
Via Twitter (@mats421)

Students and community members have reported 18 cases of stolen wheels and rims across College Station.

One of the last things most people want when they’re running late for class or work is to find that their mode of transportation no longer possesses the means to get them from Point A to Point B.
According to the College Station Police Department, from October 2021 to December 2021, there were 30 reports of wheel and rim theft, with 18 reports filed so far in 2022. From the Northgate area to Wellborn Road, the sight is often the same: a car hastily rested on cinder blocks with exposed rotors sitting where its wheels once were, leaving the owner not only frustrated, but often confused as to how it occurred and what to do next.
When material and science engineering junior Gary Nuñez had his wheels stolen, he said his first reaction was irritation.
“I was just very mad about it for about two minutes, and then I realized, ‘Well, I can’t really be mad about this,’” Nuñez said. “The anger just kind of quickly went away, and I just started dealing with it, figuring out what to do next.”
Aside from the obvious absence of the wheels, Nuñez said his vehicle also suffered body damage from the theft.
“The frame is kind of damaged on both sides because of the bricks, and then the plastic that’s on the bottom part of the car is all damaged as well,” Nuñez said.
While Nuñez said his insurance was able to have his car rolling again that same day, he still had to pay his deductible, which can be costly.
“The deductible was $500 for the wheels and then another $500 for any other damages,” Nuñez said.
After talking with his insurance, Nuñez said he got the impression this situation was common.
“Apparently, this happens quite a bit … the guy who came into our place said that he comes up here like three to four times a week to do this,” Nuñez said.
Nuñez said he decided not to file a police report because he didn’t think the police could do anything about the stolen wheels.
“I talked to other people who had the same problem in College Station and they all said that when they filed police reports all of them got dropped within three or four days,” Nuñez said. “I also asked my insurance if a police report was even necessary, and they said it wasn’t.”
Jonathan E. Shugart, a public information officer for the College Station Police Department, said it’s important to always report these crimes as soon as they are able.
“Yes, absolutely they need to report it,” Shugart said. “We look at all of those reports and you’ll never know if someone down the road might have a video or something, but if we have no idea something occurred in that area then we don’t know to maybe go look in that area.”
Having the information reported is often key to solving these crimes, Shugart said.
“We really encourage people, [if they] see something, to say something,” Shugart said. “If they think it’s a little bit off, call us, and [we’ll get] other patrol guys to go over there. We’ve seen, over the course of the last couple of years, an increase in that and an increase [in] success in patrol officers either stopping the crime before it’s fully committed or actually catching up to them shortly after.”
State Farm’s public affairs specialist Gina Eilken said while the company does not track the number of wheel and tire thefts reported, it does cover it in some cases.
“Comprehensive auto coverage will in most cases cover those types of losses or thefts,” Eilken said.
In a follow up email to The Battalion, Eilken said this type of crime is common for a few reasons.
“It’s quick. Thieves can steal unlocked wheels in a matter of minutes,” the email reads. “They are easy to sell … there’s no serial or tacking numbers on wheels to verify if they were stolen, [and] it’s good money. Depending on the model, a set of wheels can be sold for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.”
The email from State Farm also provided tips on how drivers can mitigate their risks.
“If possible, park inside a closed garage,” the email reads. “For the theft of wheels/tires, consider getting wheel locks to help prevent theft.”
Nuñez said he immediately bought wheel locks following the theft to mitigate future thefts, and encourages them to do the same.
“I have wheel locks now, but other than that, I don’t really know what else to do,” Nuñez said.
Crimes of any kind can be reported to the College Station Police Department via its website.

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