Global Semiconductor shortage leads to Steering Wheel Thefts


Global Semiconductor shortage leads to Steering Wheel Thefts

The global semiconductor shortage of 2021 has created a ton of heart ache for automotive dealerships who can’t get enough inventory of new vehicles. The top automotive OEM’s have lost at least 1 million new vehicles to a lack of microchips in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic global supply chain buckling.

The Tier automotive suppliers that make parts for these OEM’s are the users of microchips, these chips control things like push button start, blind spot detection sensors in mirrors and other sensor points on a vehicle. So as new parts can’t be made at all, it stops new vehicle production, and worse still it prohibits production of repair parts for vehicles that are already on the road. This means repair shops and parts dealers can’t buy new repair parts. When this happens the value of used parts increases considerably, and unscrupulous automotive scrap yards will buy these parts and sell to repair shops that don’t know, or in many cases do not care where the repair part came from.

Some vehicle repair shops themselves will source these blackmarket parts themselves, again, knowing they should not ask questions as to where these parts magically came from.

Where global supply chains fail, thief’s thrive. Working to cash in on supply shortages, and that supply comes from your property if you are a Chevrolet driver in Metro Detroit. To be fair Detroit is often leading edge in how automotive theft rings evolve, so this crime will probably be coming to a neighborhood near you if the pay out is worth the risk for thieves.

Detroit Area Steering Wheel and Airbag Thefts of Chevrolet Products

As reported by Fox 2 Detroit over a dozen and likely many more Detroit area drivers woke up and had the Chevrolet Equinox or Malibu steering wheel and air bags stolen. Rendering their vehicles very expensive paper weights.

Steering Wheels today, Mirrors, headlights, tomorrow?

Again steering wheels are only being stolen because of a need in the market place for them. As we discussed above mirrors and also headlights and taillights are even coming with advanced ADAS driver aid sensors that are chock full of microchips. A headlight replacement today can total thousands of dollars today, a far car from the $20 sealed beam headlight of 1980. This is because they are technologically superior offering brighter whiter lights, filtering and automatic brightness sensors, in addition to in some cases radar and vision sensors.

Just like a steering wheel being stolen, you can’t legally drive without headlights at night, and you best have your rear lights working at all times. So these are real concerns going forward, and given that the semiconductor shortage is likely to last until 2023, your vehicle is going to be looking better and better every day to thieves.

How to fight vehicle part theft?

Unlike the shop owner above, we have outlined that the common reach to reaction of the product “The Club” does nothing to deter vehicle thefts. In many cases it actually aids in vehicle theft by giving more leverage to break column locks. Read about how the club isn’t a solution to any of these problems here.

The only way to fight these types of theft are to make the vehicle inaccessible, or far too high risk to bother with breaking windows, and giving a big enough time window to allow property theft. This would leave you essentially only parking it in a secure location like a garage. Or having a well lighted driveway, and very clearly visible high quality camera system that is sure to leave more crumbs about who stole your property than it is worth to a thief.

It won’t stop the crime, these crime rings typically just go to your nearest neighbor and hit their property. So you ideally need a strong community understanding of how to deter theft from your neighborhood.