By David Highfield

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thirty-one seconds. That’s how fast a thief armed with the right equipment could steal a wheel off your car.

From Texas to Long Island to Philadelphia, there are news reports of thieves stealing wheels off of parked cars and selling them on the black market.

While Pittsburgh police say this is new here, KDKA-TV has learned of two instances in just a small part of Downtown.

KDKA Photographer Brian Murphy walked out of work one night to find an unwelcome surprise.

“My car was a little different and I noticed, ‘Wait a minute. Did somebody take my tire?’” Murphy said. “And sure enough my tire was gone!”

Someone stole one of the wheels off his car which had been parked on a Downtown street. The thief may have been spooked, since a jack was left behind and only one tire was stolen.

Someone else had two front tires stolen off a car parked in a Downtown garage.

“Zip. Zip. Zip. And wheels off, and thieves either set it right down or they set it on cinder blocks and you come out the next morning!” said Burt Young from Pine Hollow Service in McKees Rocks.

Young agreed to help KDKA-TV with an experiment. As David Highfield timed Young with a stop watch, he showed us how fast a thief could get a tire off of a parked car.

He says a battery operated device that’s portable can loosen lug nuts quickly. He had one wheel off in 31 seconds, so it’s possible a thief could leave your car wheel-less in about two minutes.

He says police in some parts of the country are recommending people mark their wheels with engraving pens, since wheels don’t have any kind of identifying marks that would make them traceable.

He also believes locking lug nuts will deter a thief from even bothering with your car.

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