I have to admit, it seems odd to me that someone would break into your car to steal the steering wheel, but there's a perfectly good reason, even if it is malicious.

Dearborn Police are the latest Michigan police department to issue a warning to motorists of a trend in their community of the theft of steering wheels.

Investigators in that suburban Detroit community say thieves are targeting General Motors vehicles, especially the Chevrolet Malibu. Police say the windows are broken out of the vehicle and the steering wheel is then pried off.

But why?

Well, like everything else these days, you can blame it on the supply chain.

A low supply of replacement airbags being shipped to car repair facilities is causing back logs, so enterprising thieves are stealing the steering wheels to get to the air bag, which they then sell to unscrupulous repair shops.

Shady repair shops will sometimes shell out cash on the spot, no questions asked for airbags, especially with factory shutdowns and other pandemic-related supply chain issues leading to shortage.

Early last year, authorities in nearby Eastpointe reported a rash of steering wheel thefts with a similar goal in mind.

And they say it's pricy for the victim, because while the airbag is only worth $200 to the thief, they rip out close to a thousand dollars worth of electronics to get to it.

The theft also causes a longer back log of airbags, prompting more thefts, it's a vicious circle, say Eastpointe police.


They added that steering wheel from the Chevy Equinox are high on the demand list, in addition to the aforementioned Malibu.

The problem has been limited to Southeast Michigan so far, but other communities around the region are expecting the trend to head their way if the supply of airbags stays low.

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