While City Bowl residents have long had to contend with thefts from inside their cars, they are now facing a new crime trend – one that sees the wheels stolen right off their cars. Cape Town Central police spokesperson Captain Ezra October has confirmed the increase.Nicola Jowell, Devil’s Peak Vredehoek Neighbourhood Watch spokesperson, says there has been a “radical increase” in these incidents.“Since the start of December we have had 16 vehicles that have had wheels stolen from them (in three instances it was the spare wheel) and four attempted thefts. “This is just in our neighbourhood watch area, but the thefts are not limited to our boundaries. “In the other 11 months of last year, only one case of wheel theft was reported to us, and that was in February 2017.”Jowell says the trend is to have a number of reports in a two- to three-week period and then the suspects “clearly move on” as there are no more reports. “In most cases at least two suspects will approach a vehicle. Bricks, cement blocks or rocks are used to prop the vehicle up – presumably first raised by a jack. Very often they will go around to all four wheels and loosen the wheel nuts for all the wheels. “Once this preparation is done they will then go back around the vehicle and take the wheels off. There is of course a getaway vehicle which the wheels are transported to. These vehicles are often parked just out of eyesight of the car which is being stripped. The car is then left up on the bricks.”Marc Truss of the Cape Town Central Community Policing Forum says this type of crime has been taking place for some time now, moving around sporadically.He cautions that the vehicles most targeted include the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Focus, as well as Toyota Yaris.In some cases, the vehicles hit are rental cars, Jowell says.“It’s particularly disheartening and in general rental car insurance has no provision for wheels so the person renting the vehicle will be directly liable for the replacement. V Continued on page 2.