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Three men are facing charges after police say they were caught in the act while stealing airbags from several cars in West Miami.
Arnold Soto, 19, and 20-year-olds Ernesto Tendero and Anthony Crespo were arrested Friday on multiple charges including burglary criminal mischief and grand theft, according to arrest reports.
According to the reports, the trio were breaking into Hondas in the area of 62nd Avenue and 14th Street around 1:20 a.m. Friday.
An officer stopped Soto and found airbags and burglary tools in the car he was driving, the reports said. Tendero and Crespo tried to the flee the scene was were quickly caught, the reports said.
West Miami Chief of Police Nelson Andreu said the arrests are part of a growing problem in South Florida.
“They were charged with several counts of thefts of the airbags from the Honda, they were also turned over to a task force that’s being conducted now in Dade County due to the problems we are having with airbag thefts throughout Dade and Broward County,” Andreu said.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau says air bag theft and fraud are growing crime trends. A new airbag from a car dealer costs around $1,000, but can purchased for $50-$200 on the streets, according to the Bureau.
“Because of the portability, airbags can be easily removed and installed as ‘new’ by unscrupulous collision repair shops,” the NICB said in a statement on airbag theft and fraud posted online. “These dishonest operators will then charge the vehicle owner or the insurer the full price for the replacement, thus committing insurance fraud.”