MASON CITY, Iowa – It’s not a common theft, but recently, there’s been an increase in the number of people stealing airbags from inside car steering wheels.
Joe Bartusek has seen a lot of crazy things when it comes to fixing peopels cars.
Star Auto Body Office Manager, Joe Bartusek said, “A rock came up that was about 18 by 14 inches and came right through someone’s windshield and everyone sitting there.”
Replacing an airbag is something that’s a little more routine. But that’s after a crash, not after it’s been stolen.
Bartusek said,”It’s unsettling because that is a safety feature on vehicles and you never know if someone untrained is removing them.”
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, thieves steal around 50,000 airbags in the United States each year.
Paul Kapustynski with Mason City Hosmer Toyota says he actually knows of a few dealerships that have been hit.
Hosmer Toyota Services Director, Paul Kapustynski said, “In August, in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities, there were 8 dealerships that were targeted and within 2 days. 40 airbags were taken.”
Thieves will often remove the bag from inside the steering wheel, and then try to sell it on the black market
Paul says getting inside that wheel and even the passenger side dash,is a piece of cake if the thief knows what they’re doing.
Kapustynski said,”They don’t even need to break a window. They slide in there open the door, it’s 4 screws and the airbag is out of the steering wheel and they’re gone.”
That little piece of plastic can protect you from serious injury and even save your life in an accident, but replacing it may cost you an arm and a leg later on.
Bartusek said,”It run’s everywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 – it’s a pricey system.”
Paul says that’s more than likely the driving factor is these crimes.
“It’s just extra money in their pocket, it’s not like anything else like you’re stealing something, they’re doing it for the money.”
Although it’s not cheap to repair, that airbag is something you definitely don’t want to skimp on.
Bartusek said, “That’s a heck of a lot better than going through the windshield or hitting the dash.”
And while it may seem like common sense to lock your car at all times, it never hurts to take extra precautions to make sure this situation doesn’t happen to you.
Kapustynski said, ” Maybe motion sensors, someone walks by gets into your car and the lights go on and that’ll deter the people away from doing it.”