Airbag Crime Prevention Information and Tips
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) estimates roughly 50,000 air bags are stolen each year, resulting in an annual loss of more than $50 million to owners and insurance companies. Hondas are the most common target of thieves, because their air bags can be removed in as little as 30 seconds.
Air bags are easy to steal and hide. Thieves resell the stolen air bags on the black market or on internet websites. Unscrupulous collision repair shops purchase the stolen air bags for between $50 to $200 each—which is cheaper than the $1,000 price tag at a dealership—in order to turn a profit, according to the NICB.
Some tips to avoid falling victim to air bag thieves:
Choose a parking spot carefully.
Park your car in an area that’s well-lit or more in a public view, not in a dark corner. Also, if possible, don’t park your vehicle near a large vehicle, which can make it easy for thieves to avoid being noticed. Always lock your doors and windows and remove any valuables.
Install a Club theft-protection device.
There are club devices that are designed with extenders that hook onto the steering wheel. You stretch it across your steering wheel and it clicks into place; it installs in seconds.
Never buy an air bag online.
If your air bag is stolen, get a new one as soon as possible, but don’t buy one online. It’s extremely risky because you can’t know for sure where it came from. Even if it’s legitimate, it might not be shipped correctly, which could compromise its quality. The federal government has strict transportation standards for air bags because of the explosive material in them. Black-market air bags are often just surrounded in bubble wrap for shipment to the buyer. That raises concerns about whether they will function properly in an accident.
Replace deployed air bags at dealerships or certified repair shops.
Don’t ask a friend to do it and don’t get it done at a questionable establishment. Authorities believe that some unscrupulous repair shops may be buyers of stolen air bags. The theory goes like this: Those shops install stolen airbags in vehicles that need replacements after airbags inflated in an accident. It allows them to turn a profit and potentially file a fraudulent insurance claim.