Airbag thefts rampant in Virginia, Maryland

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - The only calling card left from a rude awakening in Fairlington last week – some broken glass.

"You never want to see a police officer in your parking lot in the morning," said Arlington resident Janis Johnston.

Thieves broke into numerous cars on Tuesday morning, popping hoods, detaching batteries, then stealing airbags – all without anyone hearing a thing.

"I sometimes forget to lock my door, but now that really isn't an option for us, we really need to be more vigilant," said Johnston.

"I've heard of break-ins for other things, but not for that," said fellow Arlington resident Linda Wells.

"It seems like an odd thing to steal, but apparently they're valuable," said Johnston.

And they are indeed valuable. According to the National Crime Insurance Bureau, airbags retail for $1,000, but can sell on the black market for $50 to $200.

And the crime is now widespread, as we have now reported on airbag thefts everywhere from Montgomery County in December, to 17 cars in Harford County in February, to two dozen in Howard County in March.

The bags were sold to unscrupulous auto shops that put them back into cars following an accident.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening to you? Although an alarm might be your first option, it seems that many times, passersby tend to ignore car alarms.

For Linda, it’s the club; for others, it’s just old-fashioned vigilance:

"I'll be on guard sleeping in the window, you'll see me in my window tonight," said Doug Trainium.