Car theft has been around since the first car was born. While there’s been a 30% decrease in vehicle theft between 2007 and 2016 according to FBI statistics, it’s pretty much stagnated since then.
The reason for this decrease in theft has a lot to do with the increased availability of anti-theft devices for vehicles. Regular people can secure their vehicle with a steering lock, wheel lock, GPS tracker, advanced alarm systems, and many other affordable devices.
But the amount of wheel, tire and rim theft hasn’t changed much. Mainly because they are easily accessible and can be removed pretty fast. The estimated time is less than 10 minutes for a skilled group of thieves to lift a car on blocks and remove all four wheels. And without making much noise.
If you have high-end tires, wheels and rims that are worth thousands of dollars, they are likely to attract undue attention from slime balls looking for ways to make a quick buck. Luckily there are a couple of methods that can make your wheels much safer and we’ll explore them in this article.
Quick wheel theft prevention tips:
- Park in safer areas: Park inside your garage when possible. When parking in public, favor areas that have a lot of pedestrian and car traffic. If there’s surveillance cameras or on-site security, even better.
- Park near the curb: Make your wheels harder to access by parking near the curb, a wall or a fence. Turn the steering wheel to the curb as well.
- Get wheel locks: Consider using wheel locks (secure lug nuts) on one or multiple wheels which can’t be removed without the key. Wheel chock locks can also be helpful, both for preventing a carjacking and as a visual deterrent.
- Alarm and tilt sensor: This is the best type of alarm security for protecting wheels and tires. Directed Electronics tilt/motion sensor can detect towing and jacking attempts as well and it works with any security system, including a factory alarm system. If you don’t have an alarm system in place, I suggest getting the Automate Alarm System with 2 pagers so you can receive a notification if anything happens and respond to the threat immediately.
- Dash cam with front and rear cameras: Many criminals avoid cameras at all costs. A dash cam with motion sensor will get triggered if someone tries to lift your car or mess with it in any other way and will record the event. The recordings can help identify the criminals and retrieve your valuables.
Best Anti-Theft Wheel Locks
Parking in a smarter way can deter some thieves. But what about those professionals who are determined to steal your shiny new rims despite of your parking efforts? The most powerful tools at your disposal are tough wheel locks. These are the two best options:
Gorilla Automotive 61631 Acorn Gorilla Guard Locks
These are the go to security lug nuts used by thousands of smart car owners. This is a set of 4 wheel locks with a key.
They’re extremely difficult to remove without having the right key. More so than McGard wheel locks, which can be removed by jamming a socket over the lock and unscrewing it or using these two specific tools:
– Irwin Industrial Tools 54125 Lugnut Specialty Extractor Set, 5-Piece
– Advanced Tool Design Model ATD-3060 11 Piece Locking Wheel Nut Remover
The Gorilla locks don’t have these weaknesses. That’s because they have an outer sleeve that rotates if a socket is jammed over the lock. Sure, if a thief uses a hammer and chisel they could still remove them, but it would take time and make a lot of noise.
But what if you have to get new tires and the Gorilla locks are still one? In that case I recommend replacing these wheel locks with the original lug nuts because a tire shop could do some damage trying to remove them or forget to put them back in your car.
One user commented that he got his entire car stolen because the thieves couldn’t remove the Gorilla lock (their first idea was to just steal the wheels!). Probably not the outcome that he was looking for, but it attests to the quality of these locks and there are thousands of customer reviews on Amazon.
You may be wondering if these locks will fit on your car or not. There are 5 different sizes available. And there’s a menu in the upper-left corner of the product page where you can insert your car specifications to see if they’re the right fit or not.
Trimax Wheel Chock Lock
This lock attaches to the wheel. It won’t necessarily prevent wheel theft itself but it’s a great visual deterrent. It’s primary function is to prevent the vehicle from being towed or driven away.
It can be used on cars, trailers, ATVs etc. It has a pick resistant cylindrical locking mechanism and is constructed from gauge rugged powder coated steel.
A great addition to this lock is the rubber coating on the arms (claws) for wheel protection. If you have high-end wheels and want to prevent any damages it’s a pretty nice addition that many locks of this type are unfortunately missing.
Considering the affordable price (check out current price) and 4.5/5 rating by customers on Amazon, it’s one of the better choices available.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your parking choices. You can make the criminals’ job much harder by choosing the right location:
1. Park close to the curb or a wall
Removing a wheel requires a decent amount of space. By parking near the curb, a wall, a fence or any similar object the thieves might move on to an easier target.
2. Turn the steering wheel
Turn the steering wheel towards the curb and leave it like that when parking, to make the wheels harder to remove
3. Increase their risk of getting caught
Parking near a busy store, a government institution, a bank or any area with surveillance cameras and on-site security will increase the thieves’ risks. The worst thing you can do is park in a dark, secluded corner of a half-empty parking lot or a public garage.
4. Secure your garage and driveway
When parking at home, park in your private garage rather than the driveway. Even if you keep the garage door open the thieves are less likely to come inside.
Even so, it’s highly advised to keep your garage closed whenever you’re not present. It’s one of the most common entrance points for home invasions.
If your garage door can’t close fully or it can be slightly opened by pushing the top portion from outside and then reaching the opener, you’ll want to fix that. Otherwise someone could easily break into your home and do more damage than just remove your wheels.
Installing one or two home security cameras to monitor your garage and driveway can also be helpful. Wireless security cams can send you an alert on your smartphone or laptop when they detect motion in the area. So you can catch the thieves or alert the police before anything happens.
Motion sensor floodlights can be an excellent deterrent against nighttime burglars. Point the floodlights on your vehicle and the surrounding area when parking outside. If anyone comes inside the monitored area, the floodlights will illuminate the area with bright light.
A dog can serve as a great deterrent and alert system. Park near your dog’s house or have your dog roam free in your property if you have a proper fence.
Warning signs and dummy cameras are another helpful deterrent. Let the wheel thieves know you’re ready to defend your belongings and they’ll likely go after your poorly prepared neighbor instead.
Final Word: Wheel Theft Prevention
Preventing wheel theft boils down to three strategies:
- Deterrence (parking in safe areas, using surveillance cameras, visible locks, warning signs etc.)
- Physical obstacles (parking near the curb, using anti-theft wheel lock systems)
- Alerts (2-way alarm systems, cameras with motion detection)
Use this knowledge to secure your wheels better than the next guy. Because while thieves will always be around, they’re in the thievery industry for one simple reason: they’re too lazy to get a real job! By making their work more difficult (or impossible), you can manipulate them into ruining someone else’s day instead. Hope this helps!