By Pierce Panagakos


A normal Thursday turned strange for Nora Zeigenfuse when her neighbor alerted her that her Honda Civic had been broken into. Even more bizarre is what the robber had stolen — not any valuable that Zeigenfuse left behind, but the car’s airbag. 

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Zeigenfuse’s car after it was broken into and the airbag was stolen
Courtesy of Nora Ziegenfuse

My neighbor came to the door to alert me. I went to the car and found [glass] everywhere,” Zeigenfuse said. “It took me a minute to figure out the airbag was missing.” 


The theft followed a nationwide pattern that started nearly two years ago and has been on the rise in the Hyattsville area in the past few weeks. Thieves around the country have stolen airbags most often from Hondas, specifically Civic and Accord models. The resale market for these airbags is hot. 

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Zeigenfuse’s car after it was broken into and the airbag was stolen
Courtesy of Nora Ziegenfuse

Public Information Officer and Acting Lt. Zachary Nemser of the Hyattsville City Police Department said in an email, “In the City of Hyattsville there have been eight instances of airbags being stolen from vehicles dating back to May 31st, 2020. All eight of these incidents involved Honda Civics or Accords. We believe there is a lucrative secondary market for these items. This is a regional issue, and has impacted the D.C. Metro area.”

As Nemser noted, the increased spike of airbag thefts isn’t new to the D.C. area. In 2018, USA Today reported that Northern Virginia was a hotspot for theft of Honda airbags, along with Florida and New York City. According to the article, thieves stole airbags out of 37 cars from a single parking lot in Pentagon City, Va. All of the targeted cars were Civics or Accords from 2012 or earlier.


In the same USA Today article, Honda spokesperson Chris Martin said he wasn’t sure why Civics and Accords were being targeted. Martin noted that Hondas were one of the nation’s best-selling cars, making them easier to find, but that doesn’t necessarily explain the motive for stealing these particular cars’ airbags.


Pierce Panagakos is a summer intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times