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Airbag Demand Spawns a New Criminal Enterprise

Airbag thefts in 2018 are expected to have skyrocketed to meet the demand from the Takata airbag recall

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - The demand for airbags to replace the faulty ones is truly astonishing. The Takata airbag recall encompasses around 100 million driver and passenger-side airbag and that number could double. Automotive dealers and independent repair shops are working around the clock to meet the demand to replace the exploding Takata airbags and to do so as quickly as possible. To date, only around one-half of the motor vehicles affected by the recall have complied. A motorist can be expected to wait weeks and sometimes months before a dealership has the time to make the necessary repairs. Auto manufacturers have promised to make a rental car available at no charge while the repairs take place.

The demand for airbags is unprecedented and provides criminals with a financial windfall. It takes about five minutes to break into an automobile, first by cutting the vehicle's power supply and then quickly smashing the driver's side window. The driver's side airbag can be pried from the steering column without the criminal even having to open the door and enter the car. Airbag thieves can be paid $300-$500 for each airbag they steal. Auto repair shops than expense $700-$1000 for insurance purposes and pocket the difference in what amounts to insurance fraud.

The reason that Honda automobiles are targeted for airbag theft more often than other makes is illustrated by the Takata airbag recall itself. There is currently an astronomical demand for airbags as the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in the process of implementing the largest automotive recall in US history for a single reason: to replace the faulty and often deadly "Takata Airbag." Currently, 50 million vehicles are subject to recall and that number could increase to 75 million vehicles by 2020.

Even though a Honda spokesperson recently told that Honda has "plenty of replacement inflators," and saying that the idea that there's a connection between the Takata recalls and the airbag thefts is "blatantly untrue," the increase in airbag thefts cannot be dismissed as pure coincidence. More Honda motor vehicles have been the subject of the Takata airbag recall than any other auto manufacturer and demand for replacement Honda airbags has never been greater. Honda just recently announced that they would be recalling an additional 1.4 million Honda and Accuras due to the faulty, exploding Takata airbag inflator. Honda motor vehicles lead the list in terms of the number of deaths attributed to the faulty airbag. Honda owners in the southern parts of Florida, Texas, and California appear to be in the most danger since the airbag propellant cannister can explode due to high heat and humidity. Older Honda's, the ones made in 2001, 2002, and 2003 are at the greatest risk. According to Honda has completed only about 3/4 of the total number of motor vehicles subject to the airbag recall.

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Onder, Shelton, O'Leary & Peterson, LLC is a St. Louis personal injury law firm handling serious injury and death claims across the country. Its mission is the pursuit of justice, no matter how complex the case or strenuous the effort. Onder, Shelton, O'Leary & Peterson has represented clients throughout the United States in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation such as Pradaxa, Lexapro and Yasmin/Yaz, where the firm's attorneys held significant leadership roles in the litigation, as well as Actos, DePuy, Risperdal and others. The Onder Law Firm has won more than $300 million in four talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits in St. Louis. Law firms throughout the nation often seek its experience and expertise on complex litigation.