COLUMBUS (WCMH) — There are very few garages in Old North Columbus, so most residents park on the streets or an alley.
Suzanne Stone said she takes great care to make sure she doesn’t leave any valuables in her car.
Last Friday morning, she was surprised to find her driver’s side window smashed out.
“But then when I looked inside the whole center of the steering wheel was gone,” Stone says.
It didn’t register right away. In fact, it wasn’t until police arrived that she learned that it was her airbag that was taken.
“It’s a strange crime to be a victim of and it’s very annoying,” Stone said.
Stone’s Honda Fit was one of at least three in the Old North Columbus neighborhood targeted for their airbags last Thursday night into Friday morning.
Similar airbag thefts have been reported across the country, targeting, in most cases, late-model Honda’s.
At Three C Body Shops, General Manager Kevin Darst said airbag thefts in Columbus have been relatively rare. But, he says, they are high-dollar parts that thieves can get to pretty easily.
“The ones in the steering wheel, it’s a matter of a couple of bolts and you could have them out,” Darst said.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau said airbag theft is a growing problem. The NICB reports that close to 50,000 airbags are stolen each year and that thieves are reselling them on the black market or on internet websites.
A new airbag, which retails for $1,000 or more from a legitimate dealer, costs between $50 and $200 on the black market.
Darst said repairs usually involve not just replacement of the airbag, but also some reprogramming and recalibrations.
“There’s other parts that go along with those parts such as the seatbelts and the diagnostic monitors,” Darst said. “All of those things are tied to those airbags once they’ve been removed.”