Airbags stolen from over 20 cars in past 3 days in Philadelphia

RHAWNHURST (WPVI) -- Thieves broke into several vehicles in Philadelphia overnight and stole the airbags. This incident is just the latest in a rash of vehicle break-ins in which thieves are targeting the pricey part.

The thieves were out working three blocks of Hartel Street in the city's Rhawnhurst section.

In all five cars were hit, and it might have been worse if they hadn't been scared off.

Jean Kehoe lives on the block, and was awake in bed when she heard noises outside.

"I'm in bed, I hear a thump," Jean said. "It sounds right outside my door. And that's when I looked out and I saw a flashlight on the driver's side of my car and a gray hoodie. I could only see his head, like a hoodie."

She woke her husband.

Joe Kehoe says, "So, that's when I ran down the steps, got the key fob and hit the panic button."

That sent the thieves running.

It appears more than one had been working simultaneously, because they left behind airbags in some cars after breaking in.

Since the first of the year, airbag thieves have hit more than 30 cars in the Northeast.

In South Philadelphia police say 20 cars were hit over the weekend: Six on 700 block of Front Street; two on the 300 block of Monroe Street; Seven on the 400 block of Fitzwater Street; three on the 700 block of Christian Street; and two on the 300 block of Catherine Street.

Of the 20 vehicles seventeen were Hondas, the other three Acuras.

They pop three screws and their off with the airbag in less than 30 seconds. They sell them to crooked repair shops for $50 to $200. The shops then collect more than $1,000 from insurance companies for installing them as replacements.

Victims like the Kehoe's end up paying the deductible on their policies - in their case $500.

And there's lost time.

The police believe they're dealing with a ring of thieves, some of whom have been locked up before.

If you've seen anything at all that might be suspicious in the area, police want you to call 911 right away.
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