NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A recent string of car break-ins in Brooklyn have not been your typical smash-and-grab jobs. Instead of stereos and other loose valuables, thieves have been snatching airbags right out of steering wheels.
The damage is unmistakable.
“Driving around without a horn in New York, it’s very difficult,” victim David Katz told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
A shattered window and a stolen airbag, Katz’s car one of an estimated 15 vehicles vandalized overnight Friday into Saturday in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
“Obviously, people come targeting a specific neighborhood, at a specific time, just to get certain parts. That’s wrong,” Katz said.
In each case, just the driver’s side airbag was taken. Experts said they’re worth upwards of $2,000 retail, several hundred dollars on the streets, and can be gone in two minutes.
It happened to Esther Kramer’s rental car and almost stopped her from getting another one.
“They were really, pretty upset about it. They were really afraid for me to take out another one and bring it back to Brooklyn,” Kramer said.
In each of these airbag thefts, the common thread was the make of vehicle. Most were Honda minivans with their windows smashed.
“Sunday we spent the whole day getting the windows fixed, everybody,” victim Benji Stock said.
Stock’s Honda minivan was also hit. He said the NYPD is investigating the thefts, and confirmed Hondas are the preferred targets. But the market for stolen airbags is so big, finding the bags or bagging the vandals may never happen. They’re said to be professionals.
“They scan the neighborhood. They know which cars they’re going after and they take the airbags right out,” Stock said.
It’s a wakeup call, for anyone with an airbag to be had.
Many of the victims are Orthodox Jews who could not use the phone immediately to report the crimes for religious reasons. Police are now urging any victims to come forward.
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.