2021 | Police & Fire

Police report wave of vehicle airbag thefts in Bethesda, Silver Spring

More than 90 reported in first four months of 2021

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Montgomery County police on Monday said they’ve seen a notable increase in the number of vehicle airbags stolen from vehicles throughout Montgomery County — most commonly Bethesda and Silver Spring — in 2021.

In a press release on Monday, the police department wrote that there were 18 airbag thefts from Jan. 1, 2020, to April 30, 2020.

In the same period this year, there have been 90.

The police department wrote that on March 18, airbags were stolen from 21 vehicles in apartment complex parking lots on Pooks Hill Road overnight.

Other notable incidents included:

• Jan. 18: Six vehicles’ airbags were stolen from parking lots on Featherwood Drive, Treetop Lane, Treetop Drive and Featherwood Court in Silver Spring
• Jan. 28: Airbags were stolen from eight vehicles in a townhome community parking lot in Bethesda — on Hillandale Road, Chevy Chase Drive and Willett Parkway. Some victims were hit again after having airbags stolen in December.
• April 20: Eight vehicles’ airbags were stolen from residential parking lots on Grubb Road, Colston Drive and Ashboro Drive in Silver Spring.

The thefts most commonly occur in the overnight hours, according to police.

Thieves target the airbags because they can be obtained quickly and are expensive to purchase and install. The airbags that are stolen are often sold on the black market, the police department wrote, for between $50 and $200. New airbags cost about $1,000 from a retailer.

To prevent thefts, police advise that people:

• Park their car in a well-lit area
• Lock their vehicle
• Purchase a car alarm or install a steering wheel locking device

Police said they recently received a call from a person who was testing door handles in a residential parking lot. Officers responded and saw the person entering unlocked vehicles. The person was arrested.