The arrest of 19-year-old Hector Santiago last week marked the latest development in what Buffalo police say is as an uptick in the thefts of tires and wheels from parked cars in the Allentown and Elmwood Village areas, Detective Chief Dennis J. Richards said.
Richards said Buffalo police and other area police agencies have been investigating such thefts since last fall.
Tires and rims can be taken easily from many makes of popular Honda vehicles and then sold on the black market, and that seems to be linked to the uptick, according to investigators.
Santiago is charged with a series of tire and rim thefts for nearly half a dozen vehicles since late October until early this month. He is currently the subject of plea discussions by defense lawyers who are trying to get him into a drug court-related programs, according to court sources.
Santiago was identified through privately owned surveillance systems set up around some of the homes in the Elmwood Village, Allentown and West Side areas that he targeted, according to court sources very familiar with his case. One of the homes was of a Buffalo police detective.
Santiago is accused of thefts on Richmond Avenue, Fargo Avenue, Ashland Avenue and two on Maryland Street.