Car Thieves Now Target Airbags

Wed 9th Mar 2022

Last week reported that sophisticated car thieves have sparked a trend for stealing electric vehicle charging cables, on the back of last year’s vogue for thieving catalytic convertors - but now the inside of our vehicles is back on a car thief’s list.

There used to be a time when car stereos were highly coveted by thieves, or the occasional opportunistic purse snatch, but a report from Admiral Insurance has revealed that more and more airbags are being stolen from our cars.

With airbags the target of organised criminals, claims for steering wheel and airbag thefts have increased by 68 per cent year-on-year according to Admiral’s data, in the last year around 20 a month were stolen. Thieves very often take the entire steering wheel, which contains the airbag, to sell on to unscrupulous garages, with some fetching high values according to the company’s Head of Claims, Lorna Connelly, who said: “The rise in thefts has been higher in the last couple of years as the factories that produce airbags have been impacted by the pandemic, either shutting down permanently or struggling to keep up with demand once they reopen. This has resulted in criminals taking advantage of the supply chain issue

“Once the steering wheel has been stolen, the airbag is removed and sold onto unscrupulous garages who fit them to cars for less than dealerships would charge.

"The garage might buy the stolen airbag for between £200 and £500 before charging a customer a few hundred pounds more.

"This would still be cheaper than the driver going to an authorised dealership, where it costs up to £1,000 to replace an activated or faulty airbag.”

Admiral’s data doesn’t paint a completely bleak picture, while airbag theft may be rising, the total number of theft from vehicle incidents has fallen steadily over the years, from 1,290 in 1981, to 1,495 in 2001 and just 633 in 2020.