Auto Service World
News   March 12, 2003   by Auto Service World

Cadillac of Wheel Packages Attracts Thieves


Thieves in the U.S. have been targetting the Cadillac Escalade, not for the high-end SUV’s resale, but for its wheels.
In one incident, five new Escalades, each worth from $55,000 to $70,000, were taken from a dealership. The thieves were selective, taking only those vehicles equipped with the Momo wheel package which sells for $8,000 U.S.
When four of the vehicles were recovered a few days later, the wheels and tires were gone.
Police surmise that the wheel package’s popularity on music videos has increased its attractiveness to thieves.
Stealing high-end Escalade SUVs for their expensive wheels is a new twist in an old auto theft game. Thieves have always targeted certain popular cars for their most expensive or coveted parts.
In California, thieves pick on Honda Civics and Acura Integras to poach sleek body types and engine parts for use in the growing street-racing subculture, said Peter Moraga, spokesman for the Insurance Information Service of California in a report. In Texas, thieves focus their attention on airbags. On the East Coast, expensive xenon headlights and global positioning systems are the car parts of choice.
The stolen Escalade SUVs were protected by ignition-security systems that make them difficult to start without a key, but the ring of thieves, perhaps six in number, managed to drive off with the five of them, anyhow.
“It was a very well-planned theft, and it was well executed,” said sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.
No one was arrested.
Four of the SUVs were recovered after the dealership remotely activated the cars’ navigation systems. The Momo wheel package had been replaced with inexpensive “rollaway” wheels commonly used by thieves.
“People have been stealing wheels and tires for years, but the value of these packages is making them more attractive to the car thieves,” said Newport Beach police Sgt. Joseph Thrasher of the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force.


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