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BAD NEWS FOR WOULD-BE THIEVES

Thieves who smash car windows to grab items or to get inside and steal a vehicle might want to avoid Volvos.

The Swedish automaker offers an enhanced protective glass (EPG) as an option on its 2001 S60 as well as S80 and V70 models.

Made with polyvinyl butyral, EPG is a new category of laminated glass designed just for side and rear windows of vehicles. It deters smash-and-grab thefts by forcing thieves to spend more time -- up to two minutes -- smashing the window before they can break it.

And while two minutes may not seem like a long time, police say it is to a thief.

"If a thief has to stand there and pound on the window, he won't spend the time," said Detective John Nelson of the Seattle Police Department's auto theft unit.

Improved air bag sensors

Air bag sensors are getting smarter.

New technology developed by Siemens Corporate Technology and the Fraunhofer Society for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems in Duisberg, Germany, uses low-power lasers to map three-dimensional images of riders in the car.

The laser pulses, which are transmitted through the interior of a vehicle, are a step above current sensor detection because they provide depth perception.

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