DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. - Broward Sheriff's Office deputies report enterprising thieves have stolen airbags from more than 70 cars in Broward County during the last two weeks.
To satisfy the demand of an active black market for the safety devices, the deputies reported that the thieves hit 13 cars in Tamarac, nine in Weston and about 50 in Deerfield Beach.
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Keyla Concepcion, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said their latest crime spree was on Monday. The drivers of about 20 cars woke up without their airbags at the Crystal Lake apartments in Deerfield Beach.
"The thieves are targeting large apartment complexes where they can burglarize a large number of vehicles in a short period of time," Concepcion said.
Conception said the thieves appear to have a preference for Acuras and Honda Civics and Accords, which have a bigger resale market. The airbag thieves also seem to prefer cars parked in dark areas of low visibility, where they can get in and out of the car in less than a minute.
Last year, a man who was repairing his Honda was the 12th in the U.S. whose death was linked to a defect on Takata's airbag inflaters, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This prompted a growing massive recall that included about 11.4 million Hondas -- 2008-12 Accords and 2006-11 Civics -- with defective airbags.
While the used airbag for a Honda Accord can cost between $75 to $390 online, the new airbag is at least double the price. Without any regard for the potential safety risks, deputies say auto shops can purchase a stolen used airbag in the black market and bill the insurance company for the market price.
To curve the demand for the stolen airbags, the National Insurance Crime Bureau suggests that consumers to inspect the packaged airbag before it is installed and request the invoice to ensure the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer.
Detectives were asking anyone with information about these airbag thefts to contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477. There is a reward of up to $3,000 for tips leading to an arrest.
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