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A rash of automobile part thefts, primarily focusing on tires and wheel rims, has Provo police looking for a pair of suspects — and warning motorists to exercise caution.

Sgt. Mathew Siufanua said Wednesday that the suspects — described as two white males seen riding in a red, older model Ford Taurus on Feb. 17 near 350 South 900 East — have been linked to a total of eight thefts, targeting an evenly divided number of Honda and Acura cars.

One of the suspects was further described as being 5-foot-7 with a scruffy beard, long, shoulder-length hair and wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

The thefts were reported to have occurred during the first three weeks of February, Siufanua said.

"Once suspects have located specific vehicles with the targeted tires and rims, they proceed to jack the cars up, placing either cinder blocks or rocks under the car to support the weight [and] then remove the tires and rims from the car. The owners then find their cars left standing on blocks minus their tires and rims," Siufanua said.

Provo police offered the following tips for protecting cars from such parts thefts:

• Install a tilt or shock sensor: Some alarm systems already come with tilt detectors that sense changes to the angle of a vehicle that might be caused by it being lifted by a tow truck or being jacked up.

• Use tire locks: Similar to the "boot" devices police use on violators parked illegally or for overdue parking tickets, civilian versions retail for about $100 and can be found in auto supply stores or online shopping sites.

• Use lug nut locks: Costing from $10 to $70, these locks allow drivers to secure their wheels into place, preventing a thief from using a wrench to unscrew the lug nuts. These devices also are available in auto supply stores or online.

• Park in a high-traffic area: Parking in a busy place can deter would-be thieves from choosing your car. "Also, remember always to lock your car. Keep your windows rolled up," Siufanua said.

Anyone with information on the suspects or thefts is asked to call the Provo Police Department at 801-852-6210.

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