Police dealing with rash of steering wheel thefts in Metro Detroit

DEARBORN, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – There’s one crime growing in popularity in the Metro Detroit area. Steering wheel thefts.

Police say drivers are walking out to their cars to find their steering wheels stolen.

“The metro Detroit area has seen a substantial increase in steering wheel thefts,” said Corporal Dan Bartok of the Dearborn police.

The thefts have grown popular since the start of the pandemic.

According to Bartok, they’ve seen an increase in incidents.

“We’ve seen around 200 steering wheel thefts, and that’s over the last two years,” Bartok said.

In March, Detroit Police shared a video showing a thief stealing a steering wheel in less than 30 seconds.

Police in Dearborn arrested two suspects for steering wheel thefts in August. The investigation resulted in over 30 steering wheels being recovered.

The reason…. thieves want the airbag.

“They’re illegally selling the airbags afterwards and making a profit,” Cpl. Bartok says. According to authorities some auto repair shops and junk yards are illegally purchasing the airbags.

There’s also a specific type of car thieves are going after.

“We’ve seen a substantial issue with Chevy vehicles particularly the Chevy Malibu models,” added Cpl. Bartok.

For drivers of that model, police want you to be vigilant about where you park your car, especially during nighttime hours.

Police say they plan to crack down on criminals stealing steering wheels and the businesses buying them.

“You know, depending on the extent, this can be a serious felony charge with time in prison,” Cpl. Bartok noted.

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