Airbag theft is on the rise, apparently so much so that law enforcement agencies are dubbing airbags the “new car stereo.” After all, it used to be that people broke into your car to steal your tape-deck or CD player or other head unit. Now, expensive technology like airbags are being stolen, because they are relatively easy to steal and worth plenty of money. How much? Apparently up to $200 on the black market, where they are sold to shady auto repair shops who charge customers $1000 for a part they bought for just $200. This is insurance fraud, but the $800 profit enjoyed by collision repair places could tempt even the most straight-laced and honest shop owner.
The customer, in such cases, is completely unaware of the stolen part , which can easily malfunction, being installed. To avoid this, it’s important to always go to certified repair shops and parts retailers. Certified retailers are happy to show customers both the old and new parts to ensure their authenticity. One way for you to avoid airbag theft is by using an anti-theft locking device on your steering wheel (The Club, etc). Another important thing to do is parking in a visible area or under a street lamp or security camera. Also, avoiding leaving other valuables in your car that might tempt a thief is important. Keep your purse, wallet or any money or checks with you when you park your car. If you happen to be the victim of a theft, call police immediately, even before you touch the car. Then remain in view of the car until police arrive.
The airbag theft problem doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. It can be stopped only if the demand stops or it becomes easier to figure out where the stolen part went with a serial number, like your car has, or tracking device. Other solutions are in the works as well, such as making it so that airbags cannot be re-used once they are uninstalled. However, this would do nothing to curb the thefts in used vehicles, which account for the vast majority of incidents.
As technology improves, however, thieves do too. It’s hard to stay ahead of people who are willing to be dishonest. It’s just important to protect your belongings as best you can.
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