Local dealerships beefing up security after recent thefts

7:26 PM, Oct 12, 2012   |    comments
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CALEDONIA, Mich. (WZZM)- Local auto dealerships are trying to figure out how they can protect themselves against thieves who are swiping expensive wheels and rims.

On Tuesday, wheels were stolen from the Ed Koehn dealership in Greenville. That same night, Betten-Baker Chevy Buick in Coopersville was hit.

"They're after these 19-20 inch chrome tires," says John Harkema, General Manager at Seif Chevrolet in Caledonia. His dealership was hit a year ago. Harkema came into work and found five vehicles on the ground.

"They jack em' up, throw some blocks underneath, go to next one, wrench the wheels off, then throw 'em on the trailer and away they go."

That's likely what happened earlier this week at two other West Michigan dealerships. Thieves targeted six vehicles at the Greenville dealership. Later that night, 14 vehicles were stripped of their wheels and rims in Coopersville. As news spread about what happened, other dealerships became concerned.

"Biggest thing that goes through your mind is, 'am I gonna be next?'"

The Seif dealership had security cameras in place before the first theft in 2011, but the images weren't great, so they upgraded the system. They tweaked it even more after the recent thefts at other dealerships.

"One thing we did to prevent that is we increased our security coverage with more cameras. Constant footage, to make sure we're keeping tabs on everything that's going on."

Harkema says even at night, the cameras picks up a good image. He would like to think that anyone driving by on M-37 would see unusual activity, but just because you're located on busy street doesn't mean you're safe from thieves.

The wheel-rim combinations are worth between $800 and $1,000 each.

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