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Thieves Targeting Wheels Of Honda Fits

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A warning if you drive a Honda Fit: thieves are targeting your wheels. Not your car, necessarily, just your wheels.

As CBS 2's Derrick Blakley discovered, plenty of victims have awakened to find their car's wheels ripped off.

Imagine how Nathan Shafer felt when he left his Wrigleyville apartment and found his Honda Fit, parked on the street with no wheels.

"My little Honda Fit, sitting on two cinder blocks, just balancing in the middle and all my tires are gone," he said.

Shafer found he's not alone. In North Side neighborhoods like Ravenswood, North Center and Lincoln Square, wheel thefts are giving Fit owners fits.

"I went onto some blogs online for Honda Fit and it seems like it's a national occurrence," Shafer said.

What makes the Fit such a fitting target for thieves? Some believe it's the small tires that are especially attractive for back alley car customizers.

"The latest look on most of your street customs is a low ride with small wheels. If you keep your eyes open you'll see them on the streets," Honda repair expert Bob Murata said.

Murata runs an independent Honda repair shop. Using portable power guns, he said, a crew of two can rip off four tires in as little as 20 seconds.

The thieves who hit Shafer's car were so bold, they left the jack behind, lying under the car.

To protect themselves, some Fit owners have turned to wheel locks.

But Murata said, "a professional has ways of taking those off with no problem whatsoever."

So Shafer said he's taking more drastic steps. He won't even leave it parked in the city anymore.

You can't blame Shafer. His Honda Fit wheels were actually stolen twice. The second time, after he got wheel locks, the thieves only got two wheels.

He considered that to be progress.

Usually, a wheel lock is applied on one lug nut of each tire. But some exasperated Fit owners are putting different locks on all their lug nuts.

Any precautions are worth the effort, because replacing four Honda Fit wheels and tires can easily cost you about $3,000.

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