Wheel Thefts Reported in Arlington

by ARLnow.com December 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm 9,378 94 Comments

(Updated at 6:50 p.m.) About half a dozen Arlington residents have woken up to find their car up on blocks over the past month.

Arlington County police have been responding to a seemingly increasing number of wheel thefts. Thieves have been been stealing the wheels — rims, tires and all — from parked vehicles in the middle of the night. So far, all of the thefts confirmed by ARLnow.com have taken place in south Arlington, but a tipster reported a “rash of wheel thefts” in the Madison Manor neighborhood of north Arlington in late October.

The most recent incident was reported Monday, Dec. 3. Two vehicles — a Dodge Challenger and a Dodge Magnum — had wheels stolen on the 2700 block of S. Veitch and S. Lang Streets. Meanwhile, two SUVs in the Riverhouse apartment parking lot on S. Joyce Street have had wheels stolen since the beginning of November, and a coupe had its wheels stolen in the complex’s parking garage. Also, a car on the 4700 block of Arlington Boulevard had two wheels stolen during Hurricane Sandy.

Police say they don’t have much to go on this point.

“We don’t have a very good suspect description right now,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “But we know it’s more than one person.”

Sternbeck said the suspects are likely driving a vehicle large enough to haul a set of four wheels, possibly a van or a truck. Residents should be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles or activity in their neighborhoods at night, he said.

Police say vehicle owners can protect themselves by using lug nuts or wheel locks, and by parking in well-lit and high traffic areas. If given the choice of parking in a garage or outside, police recommend parking inside the garage.

“An ongoing goal of ours is to prevent this,” Sternbeck said.

Update on 12/7/12 — Police are investigating another report of a car left up on blocks. In the overnight hours of December 5, someone stole the wheels from a 2012 Toyota Camry. The car had been in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 2700 block of S. Fern Street. This theft is near two incidents reported on Monday in the 2700 blocks of S. Lang and S. Veitch Streets.

Photos courtesy Dan D., @courcelan and @bennylope

  • CarNewbie

    You can attach a wheel to a vehicle WITHOUT lug nuts?

    • AL

      I was thinking the same thing!

  • ID

    How long do you think the bikes for BikeShare are going to last when they are installed there?

    • SteveP

      Seeing as how some of those wheels were stolen from an area with plenty of bikeshare racks (the S Joyce St location), I don’t see why you’d think this. The tires are being targeted because they’re easy to sell. I don’t think the demand for a bikeshare bike or parts is very high.

      • Ted

        I don’t know. Those BikeShare bikes are pretty cool…

      • Say it Ain’t So

        While the tires were also taken, it is the ‘wheels’ that “are being targeted” – the tires are likely the ‘icing on the cake.’

  • Captain_Obvious

    South Arlington…shocker.

    • FedUp

      This will all change once we get the streetcar installed. (snark).

      • Ballston

        How much do streetcar wheels go for these days?

    • MC 703

      Yes, all of the southern portion of the county is a cesspool. We should sell it to Alexandria. Thanks!

      • Jerky response

        You are a jerk.

    • Arling

      Gee .. looks like North Arlington is a haven for safety and crimelessness > http://spotcrime.com/va/arlington

  • ID

    The way things are going, this is going to be all of Arlington someday

    • MC 703

      Yep. And the reelection of Obama sealed it. Whole county is going to crap. Leave.

      • Josh S


      • Jerky Response

        You obviously arent from Arlington….go back to where you came from

        • SAW662

          You’re right. Because EVERY PERSON in Arlington County voted for Obama. EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM.

  • ID

    As least they were kind enough to leave the vehicles on wooden blocks.

    • trivia

      However, the breaks are probably ruined. Setting the car on its breaks tends to ruin them.

      • nom de guerre

        What happens if they set the car on its brakes? Do they break?

    • McChipstah

      Exactly what I was thinking!

  • DC

    Ugh, Captain _Obvious, should we point out whenever a crime occurs in North Arlington, often the violent ones aren’t on our end.

    • Captain_Obvious

      read the article, “So far, all of the thefts confirmed by ARLnow.com have taken place in south Arlington” Does more crime occur in S. Arl or N. Arl ??

      • Keep Reading…

        …”but a tipster reported a “rash of wheel thefts” in the Madison Manor neighborhood of north Arlington in late October.”

        • Captain_Obvious

          big deal, it probably happens more in S. Arl…wanna bet?

          • MC 703

            Yep it’s a dangerous, vile place. Thanks for being ever vigilant and pointing it out. The world is a better place for having you to trash the other side of the county which you feel somehow a better person for not living in.

          • Captain_Obvious

            funny, I didn’t say any of those words. Funny how you interpret things the way YOU want to . There’s no reason to get offended when someone says something negative about your neighborhood…you take things way too seriously.

      • Arling

        Yes, more crime happens in North Arlington – http://spotcrime.com/va/arlington

    • BoredHouseWife

      well to be fair, people don’t like to poop where they sleep.

  • GMo
    • Tire Guy

      There isn’t a wheel lock made that can’t be easily removed with proper know how… However, they are a deterrent since removing locking lugs will take a few seconds more per wheel than normal. Still, don’t count on it- Free tip, make sure that you report your snazzy new rims to your insurance company (and take photos), else wise you could run into trouble recovering more than the value of the OE wheels.

      • @tire guy

        I’m sorry, “else wise”?! What kind of busted English is that supposed to be!?

  • bob

    Funny, when the wheel thefts hit Rosslyn Heights last year I didn’t hear a peep out of ARLnow. Maybe Gates-Hudson is buying them off….

    • If someone would have told us about it, and sent photos, we would have reported on it.

      • CW

        New SS Camaro up on blocks in North Highlands about 4 months ago…should have sent pics

        • Al Gore

          I used to live at Lofts 590 and once saw a Red Corvette on blocks in there garage. ~Jan 2011. Now I live around the corner from the Red Magnum and remember seeing a VW Jetta on blocks sometime this summer ~Aug-Sep.

          Doubtful this is very high on ACPD’s radar.

          • ID

            Thank you for your amazing internet

          • Cheese

            Yeah. ARLNow reported on that one…it was a nice surprise after being in the neighborhood for all of a month.

    • Bob is not so smart

      Yes that is exactly what occured….we bought them off so that we can make sure no one knows about your overpriced wheels getting stolen

  • SamsonTheCat

    The blocks look the same. Any idea where they are getting those bricks from? Construction site? Near there is where I’d start looking for people reselling tires.

    • Those Blocks

      Interesting. Take a close look at those blocks. In every picture they appear to be landscaping blocks — i.e., the type you buy at Home Depot to build a homemade wall. I have had a number of those blocks stolen over the last year, usually one at a time. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would steal ONE block. Now I know why. (and incidentally, I live near one of the sites pictured above)

      • JammingEcono

        Interesting. We had a 7-8 of those landscaping blocks stolen from our front yard a few months ago. We couldn’t figure out why perps would want them. Now I guess I have an answer.

  • JamesE

    That photo makes me cry

    • CW

      Because they bought a Dodge? Me too.

      • darsasx

        Or because putting it up on blocks actually increased the value of a Dodge?

  • Henry Spencer

    I’m not sure if a parking garage is much of a deterrent; a truck in one of the Crystal Park garages got all four wheels stolen during the day last year.

  • Neighbor

    Not that it makes it better, but do we know if these are after-market tires/rims that are being targeted?

  • Swag

    “Sternbeck said the suspects are likely driving a vehicle large enough to haul a set of four wheels”

    Wow. Just wow.

    How much do we pay these guys?

    • CW

      It could be 4 different guys with CaBi memberships!

    • Larchmont

      Must be that “innocent until proven guilty” mentality. Don’t forget to be on the look out for 4 guys rolling 4 wheels down the road in the middle of the night acting like nothing is going on.

    • arlgirl

      “An ongoing goal of ours is to prevent this,” Sternbeck said.

      Sternbeck is a man of deep thoughts.

      • chris

        How this guy got that job is beyond me…..

      • Arlington Cat

        Who doesn’t know hot to use the word “goal” correctly.

    • fedworker

      round up all the trucks and vans in the area

  • B22201

    This is why you see old mini-vans on the crime report as being stolen. Steal the van, steal a bunch of parts, and dump the van.

    A number of cars got stripped inside my building a few years ago. Left behind were the seats to a van. The police said “They probably stole the parts for racing”. . . Pretty sure underground racers aren’t stealing doors, air-bags, fenders, and whatever else off of Hondas. Most likely a accident repair shop in my opinion.

    I hate when people steal things that people work hard for. If found, they should have their hands chopped off.

  • South Awwlington

    Wheel locks anyone?? Very surprised the Suburbans didn’t have them. The Dodge on the other hand, nsm.

  • SB

    Happened to our Volvo in N. Arlington about 18 years ago. Of course never solved and we only got insurance for basic wheels instead of the fancy wheels we didn’t even know enough to realize we had.

  • arlcyclist

    On Army-Navy the other day I saw what I’m pretty sure was a late model Camaro with the driver-side propped up on bricks but only the rear wheel was missing. I wonder if the thieves were scared off by something in the middle of the job. Pretty sure the most commonly stolen rims tend to be higher end OEM rims (20″+) like those found on Tahoes, Suburbans, and Camaros since the resale value is high and they’re in demand (much like the 1994 Accord is the most commonly stolen car).

    • Travis

      That was my Camaro! Someone stole the rim and tire on Saturday night. I agree that someone was probably scared off because they left the lug nuts right next to the car.

  • Chris

    This happened to a Nissan Maxima parked underground at an apartment building near Crystal Drive in the last two weeks….all the way on B3….can’t imagine they don’t have footage of the perp since there are cameras on every entrance and pointing at the car that was broken into. (Also broke the window)

    Guessing they are going for the rims as this car had aftermarkets on it.

    • Rent-a-cop

      There have been bikes stolen in my parking garage in the past. I think the rent-a-cops buildings use to police the area at night are to blame. I would almost bet that they let the criminals in and get a cut of the money when the stolen items are sold.

  • courcelan

    I took the picture of the red Dodge above. Talked to the lady who owns the vehicle later that evening. Apparently she had aluminum wheels on her car, not sure if they were after market.

  • Al Gore

    Channel 7 is picking up this story.

    Source: I just walked by.

  • Dust

    I’ve seen a lot of these and called the police right after it occurred. I had an officer tell me nothing could be done since it transpired on private property. A few days later it hit again. I think Arlington County are going giving the impression that the parking lots are lawless and forcing residents to provide for their own protection over property.

    • Bob Costas


      • Wayne Kubicki

        Bob, as you are well aware, if there were no cars, this crime would not have been committed.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          + 1,00 . . . oh, forget it. A lot.

        • Trolley Jacker

          Can’t wait to start ‘jacking those trolley wheels !!!

    • Buckingham Beauty

      Stupid question, but how do you know you’re calling “right after it occurred” if you weren’t there when it occurred? And if you were, then why didn’t you call the police AS it occurred?

    • drax

      A police officer told you theft couldn’t be investigated because it happened on private property?

    • BoredHouseWife

      private corporate property.

  • Elmer Fudd

    This entire story is a wheel shame.

    • ID

      I will always be wheel of shame. . .

  • Suburban Not Urban

    “a tipster reported a “rash of wheel thefts” in the Madison Manor neighborhood of north Arlington in late October” can anyone confirm or source this. Wouldn’t it show up in the crime reports?

  • ID

    The wheel thiefs are streetcar supporters. This is part of their “War on Automobiles”

    • Loocy

      No, I think the thief is Superintendent Murphy. He’s mad because when he kicked all the kids off the buses, their parents just started driving them to school, thwarting his plant to attach small devices to each child which would harvest the energy generated by walking and then use the energy to power the schools. If he steals everyone’s tires, then they can’t drive! hehehe

    • ArlingtonWay

      Exactly. Someone should question that creepy neckbearded Car Free Matt.

  • Patrick

    I’m guessing it was retaliation from a disgruntled county board member for this citizens refusal to adopt a car free diet.

  • fedworker

    Looks like the perps are targeting American model vehicles. So the simple solution is for everyone to go out and buy or trade-in for a foreign model.

  • Al Gore
  • CW

    This is going to end when some punk gets the hell beat out of him by a vigilant vehicle owner.

    Sadly, the County will then prosecute the owner.

    • drax

      Beating someone up is illegal, even if you do it because you’re mad that he committed a crime against you. Being a victim of a crime doesn’t make you impervious to the law, and criminals still have the protection of the law.

      • CW

        Yawn, you’re so cool.


    It’s almost 2013 who the f*ck drives an SUV? WTF?

    • JamesE

      about 90% of people

      • Quoth the Raven

        That had to be an attempt at sarcasm.


    HELLO FISCO! I need to start rolling around town in a Oldsmobile 98. Take up two parking spaces.


    Just look for dudes buying 4 bricks at time at Home Depot.

  • Matty

    What’s the point of putting the cars up on blocks? Is that a courtesy to the owner? Why not just let them sit there on the pavement? They obviously don’t care about the people they’re screwing over, so it’s funny if that’s supposed to be some kind of considerate gesture, but I’m guessing it’s just part of the technique of pilfering car wheels?

    • CW

      How do you remove a jack from under a car without anything to hold the weight of the car? You don’t.

      • themayor

        Nice burn on Matty, CW!

    • Not too Bright

      Is it painful?


    Not always, I got 4 wheels stolen in Alexandria and they just drop the car, no blocks, nada. But, they did leave the four runner jack behind.

  • Tommy

    Same thing happened to me back in the day on N Rhodes St (Colonial Village). Having my Accord dragged across the pavement onto the back of a flat bed truck was painful to watch.


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