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Thieves’ Hot Item: Your Car’s Rear Deck Spoiler

March 24, 1995

BOSTON (AP) _ Frank Augello warned his father not to buy the sportier car with the spoiler on the trunk.

Sure enough, two months later the rear deck was mangled and the elder Augello, a retired carpenter, had to shell out $500 for a new spoiler, the largely cosmetic wing that’s become popular with car owners and, now, thieves.

The spoiler _ which in race cars improves stability and handling but in regular cars does little more than look cool _ has joined hubcaps, stereos, phones, air bags, seats, and countless other accessories as ripe for the taking. What’s left?

``Sunroof wind deflectors,″ snickered the younger Augello, who owns Honda House in Cambridge.

Pilfered spoilers are common complaints among the motorists who call or stop by at Augello’s business and other dealerships around the country.

Augello offered this theory for the theft of spoilers, wheels and other parts: ``It’s a cheap way to turn an Accord DX into an EX,″ he said Friday, referring to Honda’s basic model and its loaded cousin.

Just six screws hold the Accord’s spoiler in place on the trunk from the inside, Augello said. All it takes is breaking a window to reach in and grab a lever to pop the trunk.

But often thieves simply mangle the spoiler in their quest for the brake light it carries.

That’s what happened to Frank Augello Sr., whose 1990 Honda Accord was vandalized outside his apartment in the Boston suburb of Malden.

Augello said he didn’t even notice that the spoiler was hanging off the trunk _ which the thieves dented and scratched _ until a woman pulled up next to his car at a light and said, ``Hey, they got yours, too.″

``Boy, I’ll tell you I felt so violated,″ he said. ``I wouldn’t have minded so much if they had just unscrewed the whole thing. I’ve got a new one on there now and I keep the car in a garage.″

State police don’t keep track of theft of car parts, though in the town of Salem, local authorities reported 32 cases of pilfered spoilers in the last year, with 15 so far in 1995.

Boston police don’t track spoiler thefts either, but department spokeswoman Tracy Wyse is an informal expert: Two have been stolen off her 1990 Accord.

``The first time they took half the trunk with them,″ said Wyse, whose car was in the shop Friday for a new trunk and spoiler. ``This time they were neater about it.″