If you feel safe and secure driving around in your heavy-hauling pickup, maybe you want to turn a blind eye to the latest National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) report on “America’s 10 Most Stolen Vehicles.” The report verifies that imports and pickups continue to constitute the bulk of stolen vehicles in the U.S., with many of the same cars topping the list since 2007. The Honda Accord—with 51,290 stolen in 2014—is the most popular make and model with car thieves.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is required by law to report theft, develops its list based on the number of vehicles produced, so comes up with a slightly different Top 10 list than does the NICB. Its report from 2013, the most recent year for which the NHTSA has data, indicates that the Dodge Charger takes the No. 1 spot, with nearly five of every 1,000 vehicles reported stolen.
The NICB, an industry group, gathers its data from law enforcement agencies across the nation.
Neither reporting organization makes a judgment on whether the top stolen vehicles were in demand or simply easily accessible. Both factors are likely at play. “In demand,” however, refers mostly to automobile parts, since that is predominantly why professional car thieves steal cars—not because they want to drive or sell them. The vast majority of stolen cars go to chop shops, according to research aggregated by the automobile industry.
As far as accessibility goes, consider NHTSA’s finding that none of the highly stylized and expensive 37,400 Ferraris in America were stolen in 2013, whereas the Honda Accord continues to be a victim of its own popularity (367,000 sold in 2013 alone). In other words, easy obtainability is a relevant factor in automobile thefts. After all, exotic cars are limited in number and few of them are driven to the mall or parked on the street.
Older cars are also targeted more than newer ones. Many are not equipped with anti-theft devices; they also help supply long-standing model lines with versatile parts—parts that unscrupulous repair shops are only too happy to buy at significantly discounted prices.
Beyond the what and why of car theft lies good news: The number of stolen cars is declining. In fact, the FBI reports 2013 crime figures that show a 58 percent reduction in stolen vehicles since 1991. NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle credits the vehicle manufacturers for efforts to improve anti-theft technology. For instance, vehicles with ignition immobilizers—something absent from most large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles—prevent hot-wiring.
NICB’s Hot Wheels: America’s 10 Most Stolen Vehicles
For 2014, the most stolen vehicles in the nation were (total thefts after dash):
- Honda Accord—51,290
- Honda Civic—43,936
- Ford Pickup (Full Size)—28,680
- Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)—23, 196
- Toyota Camry—14,605
- Dodge Pickup (Full Size)—11,075
- Dodge Caravan—10,483
- Nissan Altima—9,109
- Acura Integra—6,902
- Nissan Maxima—6,586
How to Protect Yourself
Having a vehicle stolen is a severe economic hardship for most people—especially if the vehicle is uninsured. A comprehensive automobile insurance policy will typically cover losses due to theft.
The NICB advises all drivers to heed its four “Layers of Protection”:
- Common sense: Lock your car and take your keys. It’s simple enough, but many thefts occur because owners make it easy for thieves to steal their cars.
- Warning device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another way to ensure that your car remains where you left it.
- Immobilizing device: Generally speaking, if your vehicle can’t be started, it can’t be stolen. “Kill” switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys are among the devices that are extremely effective.
- Tracking device: A tracking device emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics,” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.