Things Are Wheelie Getting Out of Hand: Chevy Steering Wheel Thefts on the RiseIt’s a new twist on the old crime of airbag theft.See all 11 photosAaron GoldAuthorManufacturerPhotographerMay 6, 2021

Imagine waking up, downing your coffee, and stumbling out to your Chevrolet Equinox or Malibu only to find that the entire steering wheel is missing. According to a report from Detroit TV station WJBK-FOX2, that’s precisely what happened to a couple of dozen residents of the Detroit suburb of Eastleigh. (The missing steering wheels, that is—we’re speculating about the coffee and the early-morning stumbling.)

Apparently, this is a new twist on the classic old crime of airbag theft. The National Insurance Crime Bureau notes that approximately 50,000 airbags go walking every year. Thieves sell the stolen airbags to less-than-scrupulous shops who prefer to pay $250-$300 to the villains rather than a $1,000 or more to a dealer. Pandemic-related shortages have made airbags scarce, hence the new urgency to steal them.

A good steering wheel lock, such as The Club, can make airbag theft more difficult, but apparently, these Michigan robbers have found a way around that: Steal the entire steering wheel after first breaking in through the rear-side window, which apparently doesn’t trigger the alarm.

Of course, this way sucks for the hapless victim, because not only is your car not drivable (or, at least, a heck of a lot less drivable), but the repair is more expensive—assuming you can get the repair done at all because, if you haven’t heard, there’s an airbag shortage.

See all 11 photos

What can you do, besides not drive a Chevy? Park in a garage or under lights, or at least park near a camera so you’ll have video of the scoundrel who breaks into it. If you’re a die-hard GM fan, wait for the release of the Cruise Origin, which has no steering wheel to steal. Oh, and if you need an airbag, please don’t buy one off eBay or Craigslist, because chances are you’re getting it from one of these scuzzbucket thieves.