AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police have arrested a man they say stole up to $100,000 worth of car wheels.
Since August 2018, police documents say they’ve seen “an enormous amount” of car tire theft reports.
Maya Ward fell victim to a car theft the day after Black Friday.
She’s not the only one.
”She came running back in. ‘Mom, mom. The tires are gone. The tires are gone,” said Ward. ”It’s almost like a punch in the gut. You know you think, this vehicle was whole last night, how is it missing?”
Austin police linked Jose Vega to a string of car thefts in the Williamson and Travis County area. Court documents say he’d made more than 100 transactions with ‘Tires to You LLC,’ a company in south Austin located at 3800-B Drossett Dr., where he sold the stolen goods and racked up nearly $100,000.
Court documents say Vega was pulled over after an Austin police officer followed him into Round Rock where he saw Vega steal rims off another car.
A close acquaintance of Vega told police that Vega has never had a job, and makes all of his money selling stolen rims and tires. Documents say Vega also never puts hard license plates on his cars either.
Maya Ward says she found her truck rims stolen, it was barely balancing.
“It was just sitting on blocks, three blocks were holding it up,” said Ward.
Her car was standing up on three landscaping blocks, to be specific. Neighbors have also reported those being stolen from their yards, and in addition to that:
”We had wheel locks on all the tires, but that didn’t stop him.”
Round Rock police say in the cases they’ve seen recently, the thieves have used a special tool to get around the locks. The same method used in removing Maya Ward’s wheels
“We’re like, ‘How are we going to come up with this?” said Ward. “We are already in a tight crunch because we are in a Christmas budget.”
It’s an unforseen loss for Ward, but mixed with relief that the possible culprit has been caught.
Jose Vega had been wearing an ankle monitor from a different case. Police were able to track his GPS steps, which they say not only matched up with the crimes, but also with the store where the stolen wheels were sold.