Wheel, tire theft continue to plague Burleson
Imagine waking up one morning, starting your day and going outside to discover that you have been the victim of a theft. It’s not your pickup or SUV that has been stolen, but the wheels and tires that it was sitting on have been. That is becoming a more frequent problem for residents in Burleson. Since April there have been eight reports of stolen wheels and tires.
Thieves are concentrating predominantly on newer-model Chevrolet and GMC trucks and SUVs, Officer J. Bartlett with the Burleson Police Department, said.
“I couldn’t tell you why other than its an easy item to sell,” Bartlett said. “They have been focusing on those newer Chevy and GMC trucks, but there have been a few that have stolen after-market rims.”
It’s not just Burleson that is experiencing the problem. Joshua has also been hit hard by the wheel thieves. Bartlett has been communicating with other local law enforcement offices who have also been struggling with the same type of theft.
The thieves are also targeting the same models in other communities.
The crime isn’t a new one. In 2016 residents of Burleson started making reports to law enforcement about stolen wheels.
“There was a crew hitting us for a three to four-week stretch,” he said. “But a neighboring PD made an arrest and it stopped. Then there was a crew out of Fort Worth who would come into Burleson every once in a while and then they were arrested.”
The most recent crew of wheel thieves is out of Cleburne, Bartlett said.
“We haven’t made any arrests yet, but we are issuing warrants and they will be off the streets soon,” he said.
Once the wheels have been acquired, the thieves will sell them on mobile apps such as Offer Up and 5 Mile or Facebook marketplace using fake names. A quick search by staff members of the Star on Offer Up revealed many late-model tires and wheels for sale for Ford, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet and Toyota Tundra trucks - ranging in price from $300 to over $1,000.
There are lug nut locks that truck and SUV owners can buy from their dealer. However, Bartlett said the best course of action is to get your vehicle off that street at night.
“Always park in your garage, if you have one and can,” he said.
Tiffany Meza, who lives in Shannon Creek with her family, said the wheel thieves have hit her neighborhood three times since April.
“My wheels and tires were stolen off of my 2015 Tahoe,” she said. “We had only had it two days.”
Tim Millikan lives in Joshua and said his wife woke up the morning of July 2 to discover that the wheels had been stolen off of their new model Chevrolet.
“The Joshua police told me that there has been several of these thefts in Joshua and Burleson,” he said.
Tanya Irwin’s son was a victim of this crime earlier this summer.
“Around 1:30 in the morning, some of my neighbors were up and saw someone pull up next to my son’s truck, get out and get into his truck,” Irwin said. “They didn’t just steal the tires though, they stole the whole truck. It was sitting right in front of our house.”
Irwin believes the truck was stolen because they had just put $1,600 worth of tires and wheels on the 2004 Ford F-350.
“The truck itself is old but nice. The newest thing about it was the tires. My son left at about 7:30 a.m. to go to work, he walked outside, came immediately back inside and said, ‘where is my truck?’,” Irwin said. “I thought he was kidding and I walked outside and it was just gone.”
Though Irwin has camera footage, the truck has not been located nor have any arrests been made.
“I never thought this would happen in our neighborhood,” Irwin said. “We live in a nice, quiet neighborhood. It makes me more suspicious of people.”