Tire thefts leave vehicles bare

The manager of a condominium complex on the West Bay corridor had an unpleasant surprise Monday morning when she checked on a vehicle left in her care. 

“Look at the car,” said Lisa Ebanks, manager of Villas of the Galleon, gesturing toward the light blue four-door 2005 Honda Civic perched precariously on two 6-inch cement blocks and with all four of its tires and rims missing. 

When the thieves set the car down on the cement blocks, the weight of the car collapsed the blocks under the front passenger side door.  

“The thieves even brought their own blocks because we do not have any of those around the compound,” said employee Gary Dominguez. “They’re brave, because they came in broad daylight – you can just imagine what they wouldn’t do.” 

Ms Ebanks said, “There were no unusual rims or anything on the car, just ordinary ones. It is an older gentleman that owns the car and I was looking after it until he returns to the island – nothing fancy on it.” 

Ms Ebanks, who lives behind the office, said she parked the car in the lot on Saturday. Mr. Dominguez discovered the tires were missing at 9:56 a.m. Monday. “I know that the wheels were on the car Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. because we went for a drive, and when I returned, I parked the car right here,” she said.  

When the property security guard arrived Sunday night at 6:55 p.m., the tires were gone but the guard assumed Mr. Dominguez had removed them and thought nothing more about it.  

Ms Ebanks called the police and the insurance company to report the theft and was told that there have been other cases of thieves leaving cars jacked up, with tires and rims missing. 

Zinnana Ebanks, assistant claims manager at British Caymanian Insurance Agencies, said her company has received a few claims in the last couple of years for theft of car rims and tires. The Insurance Company of the West Indies has also received similar claims in recent years but, according to a representative, that only usually applies to vehicles covered by fully comprehensive insurance. She said vehicle owners with third party polices sometimes do not report such claims because theft is not covered with third party insurance. 

With more people putting good tires and rims on their cars, one option to keep cars tires more secure is acquiring a set of theft-deterrent lock nuts, which are available at most auto parts store. 

A representative at Automotive Arts said lock nuts cannot be removed with an ordinary lug tool. Usually, one of the lug nuts is placed on each tire so there are three ordinary lug nuts and one lock nut on each tire. 

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service did not respond by press time for comments on how widespread reports of such tire thefts are. 

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Gary Dominguez ponders the recent activities of tire thieves. – Photo: Jewel Levy
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