The sense of security in one of the District’s safest neighborhoods eroded a little this week. It wasn’t just the car break-ins in the Chevy Chase section, it was also that the items taken provide motorists with an extra level of assurance — air bags.

All five thefts were reported Tuesday and occurred on Chevy Chase Parkway, Nevada Avenue, Utah Avenue and Newlands and 28th streets, all residential streets within a relatively few blocks of each other.

A main precaution against theft recommended by police is locking cars and keeping valuables out of sight. But in these cases, police said, the thieves broke in by smashing rear windows and took apart the steering-wheel assembly to get the bag, which is commonly installed there.

Such thefts are not new; authorities say the bags have become as attractive to thieves as such frequently stolen equipment as stereos and GPS devices. Authorities say bags can bring prices in the hundreds of dollars on the black market.

In this case, police said, Honda and Nissan vehicles appeared to be the primary targets.

Police said they were stepping up their enforcement efforts.

Bag thieves have struck throughout the Washington area. In one incident reported in April, several cars were broken into in the Fairlington area of Arlington overnight, with air bags being taken.

It has been reported that replacing a bag can cost as much as $1,000, in addition to the costs of labor and repair of the damage to the car.

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