air bag theft an expanding new problem
Insurance industry experts and police said the nationwide outbreak was only a little more than a few months, although there are no statistics yet, there are many wordsof-mouth reports.
\"This is becoming more common in urban areas across the country, especially on the east and west coasts,\" said Steven Goldstein, vice president of New York --
Headquartered at the Insurance Information Institute, it is a national trade group representing the carrier of property and accidental injury insurance.
At the end of 1992, Detroit reported for the first time the theft sold to unscrupulous auto repair shops. in the past six months, the theft occurred in Los Angeles, New York, St.
Goldstein says several cities in Louis and New Jersey.
\"There is no statistics yet, because it is a relatively new crime,\" Goldstein said . \".
Throughout Southern California, from Long Beach to Santa Clarita, thieves steal safety devices from cars parked in lanes, parking lots and even car dealers for up to $1,200, police said.
Last month, at a Toyota dealer in Valencia, thieves took the airbags from 14 cars--
Scott Jackson, the dealer\'s director of parts and services, said that the usual target-car audio-was not intact.
\"They just broke the driver\'s side window and unpacked the battery, and I think it was just a few minutes before they took the bag,\" Jackson said . \".
Detective Dexter Owens said that in the past four months, thieves also took about 15 airbags from two car dealers in the west San Fernando Valley, the head of the Los Angeles Police Department\'s West Valley car theft department.
\"It exploded,\" said Los Angeles police Detective Mike Levin, describing the popularity of car thieves.
\"You didn\'t even hear about it six months ago.
\"Now they are going through the roof,\" he said . \".
Van Nuys and North Hollywood\'s car theft detectives report more than a dozen such theft incidents in the past month.
\"In our area, I seem to see it more and more often,\" said Detective Ernie Guzman, who is in charge of the Van Nuys car theft department.
The airbag expands rapidly but briefly to cushion the impact of a 15-meter crash on the driver or passengerp. h.
Or more, once installed only on expensive luxury cars.
But when they start appearing as standard equipment in new cars with lower prices, the number of thefts increases.
The market for stolen airbags also seems to be expanding.
Police suspect that some professional car thieves collude with body shops and workers who want to lower prices because they need them to complete the repair of the car involved in the factory accident --
The bag only works once and cannot be reused.
Car movers undoubtedly buy these bags as salvage items and resell them to repair shops and home mechanics for about half the price of the new ones.
In the case of Mercedes-Benz or Lexus, there is no installation cost and the replacement cost is about $1,200.
New bags from other brands cost $800 to $1,200.
A body store worker with stolen airbags can have the difference between the money paid to the thief in his pocket ---
Around $150. -
Lewin said the $1,000 or more charged to the insurance company or the owner was to buy a new bag.
The main risk for air bag thieves is that these devices are activated by a small amount of gunpowder that can be detonated by static electricity, although there is no report of such incidents, Detective Bob grebier, who leads the Valley, said
Based on community efforts to combat car theft, known as CECATS.
Detective Laphetrick said that in a test conducted by a car theft investigation School operated by the Los Angeles Police Department, the bag soared 70 feet in the air when it was inflated.
\"If it\'s deployed while you\'re drinking a bottle of soda, it\'s going to go straight through your face,\" says Hetrick . \".
\"It\'s like Mike Tyson hitting you in the face.
\"When the motion detector senses an impact, it will detonate gunpowder --
A chemical charge that produces a mass of gas that breaks the balloon in an instant. like bag open.
Tom Treinen, president of special equipment
Santa Claus Clarita
The manufacturer of the explosion \"initiator\" that triggered the deployment of the airbag agreed that the initiator may cause serious damage.
\"I don\'t know if it will blow your arm down, but if you don\'t know what you\'re doing, it will definitely blow your fingers down,\" he said . \".
Treinen also confirmed that static electricity may trigger the initiator in extreme cases.
Treinen said his company expects to sell about 7 million of its equipment this fiscal year and demand is growing.
Investigators say it is almost impossible to find crooked repair shop operators and prove that they have violated the law by receiving stolen goods.
But in at least one case, it\'s easy to catch the so-called thief.
In December, Lewin found a stolen car circle in the valley.
When he noticed that three people were trying to break into his unmarked police car in the parking lot of the North Ridge Fashion Center mall.
He arrested them and later found out that Sang Van Tran, 35, North Hill, was one of the suspects and whether the same person he was looking for had anything to do with the theft of five cars, the cars were resold to uninformed victims after the victim\'s vehicle identification number was changed.
Lewin said Tran had an air bag at the time of his arrest and was also considered stolen.
Lewin matched the serial number of the airbag with the vehicle identification number of a car stolen from the Metrolink parking lot in West Valley, from one of the dozen stolen airbags.
Lewin said Tran was charged with nearly a dozen crimes in two different cases and was awaiting trial in the Los Angeles High Court.
Highway Safety Insurance Association in Arlington, Va.
According to the Southern California Motor Club, 91% of the 1994 models are equipped with airbags.
Goldstein and Detective J. said high profit margins and such a big market prospect will continue to drive the theft of plastic bagsR.
Rolf is a car theft investigator in the Devon division of the police station.
\"If it\'s in the car and has some value, someone will try to take it,\" Rolfe said . \".