Back in the day, thieves would target cars for their stereo systems, or they'd just take the whole thing, but a modern trend where criminals only target airbags and steering wheels is picking up steam and is bleeding into America's rising car theft problem. This new trend specifically targets GM cars such as the Chevrolet Malibu, or its crossover sibling the Chevrolet Equinox. According to a recent crime report out of Detroit, a woman in Eastpointe says that she woke up to a disaster scene when her car was broken into earlier this week. Instead of looking for valuables such as phones, the crims simply popped out the airbags and took the steering wheel.
The victim didn't leave anything of value in the car but was shocked to see what they had stolen: "When I looked up, my driver's side rear window was broken, glass all over the place. Not a big deal, I opened the driver's side door and I had no steering wheel," she said.
This type of targeted crime has been reported 11 times between May 2-3. The criminals usually break the left rear window, which in some cases doesn't trigger the car's alarm system. John Channell from Stan Yee Auto Repair says that the lockdown has made it difficult to get parts, specifically airbags and steering wheels, which has led to an explosion in black market trade.
"This is straight cash; you can take it to different shops that may be able to buy it, and they will give you cash for that immediately. Then, they will just put it into a car where this already happened," he said.
According to Channell, the cost of replacing an airbag can be as much as $300, but the cost of replacing a steering wheel is much higher due to the added technology involved and can cost thousands of dollars. Channell suggests that car owners take extra precautions: "Put your car in the garage, put it where there are lots of lights, or a camera. Do whatever you can, tell your neighbors, spread the word, tell a neighbor. it's been going on for a while."