Hondas targeted for wheels, Orange County deputies say

Rims stolen, cars left on blocks

Custom wheels, with shiny chrome, fancy LED-lighting, and even spinning centers can cost several thousand dollars. But lately, those aren't what thieves are looking for.

They're after 18-inch stock rims, straight from the factory, on a particular type of Honda - the Accord Sport.

Orange County deputies confirmed to Local 6 they're seeing at least a couple of Accord Sport models left on blocks, minus the wheels, each month. And pictures sent to Local 6 show the problem is worse than that - Honda Accord Sports targeted in gated subdivisions in Seminole and Orange Counties, all perched on blocks, wheels stolen in the middle of the night.

Honda dealers deny the problem but a Local 6 viewer sent us a picture of a Honda Accord Sport missing all four tires claiming to be at a local dealership, claiming it's the second one to come in that way just this week.

Local 6 first reported the problem in September 2014, when Andrew Bruce's Accord Sport was targeted. Bruce lives in Provenance, a gated neighborhood in Oviedo.

"I come outside about 6 o'clock in the morning, pitch black, have my lunchbox in my hand and immediately notice my car is a little lower," said Bruce back in September. "I drop my lunchbox and told my wife 'holy crap!'"

Bruce said replacing all 4 wheels and tires cost him his insurance deductible - $1,000.

The owners of Audio Excellence on Semoran Boulevard in Orlando's East side of town say they know the problem well.

"They take the cars out to Bithlo and they'll drag race them," said Sam Baker, part owner of Audio Excellence. "So they'll take the factory wheels and put them on the front and drag race 'em. They're a lot lighter. The aftermarket wheels are a lot heavier."

Baker said almost every day, young people will come into his store looking for wheels for their Accord Sport. Some will even try and sell him stolen wheels.

"They put them on their Civics or Accords that they have in the garage and they only use them for racing," said Baker.

Baker said Hondas are the vehicle of choice for street racers and drag racers because they get so much bang for their buck. The cars are relatively cheap while offering outstanding performance, especially once customized with readily-available parts.

Baker recommends a car alarm with a tilt sensor that sounds the alarm if the car is lifted. He also suggest locking wheel nuts, which need a special key to be removed, but admits thieves can easily access those keys.

He recommends parking in a garage if possible and, if nothing else, trying to park in a well-lit area.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Honda Accord and Honda Civic rank numbers 1 and 2, respectively, for 5 years straight as the most stolen cars in America.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.