Well, the top ten list of most stolen cars, that is.
Back in my juvenile delinquent days (I now walk the straight and narrow), the cars to steal were American…why was that? Simple. You stole the most popular cars and sold them to either chop shops as a whole, or if you were handy with a wrench, you would strip them down and sell the parts. Cars like the 1991 Toyota Camry, as well as most Hondas, were not being driven, at least in my neck of the woods. Most of us drove American cars, with the exception of my old friend Clint that drove a old Nissan pickup truck. Some guys would even strip down the car right there! Granted, they only had a minute or so, so they had to work as a team…kind of like a NASCAR pit crew in reverse.
At least that’s what I’ve heard.
Anyways, the National Insurance Crime Bureau othewise known as the NICB) has released their annual “Hot Wheels” top 10 stolen vehicles for 2011 (what took them so long?). Looking nothing like my personal collection (of mostly Matchbox cars), it kinda reads like an annual top ten sales list, which rarely changes from year to year.
Speaking of, here is the list:
- 1994 Honda Accord
- 1998 Honda Civic
- 2006 Ford F-Series
- 1991 Toyota Camry
- 2000 Dodge Caravan
- 1994 Acura Integra
- 1999 Chevrolet Silverado
- 2004 Dodge Ram
- 2002 Ford Explorer
- 1994 Nissan Sentra
Now, you can see that this is a rather eclectic mix of old and new cars. The explanation for both are really simple…I’ll break it down into two parts.
1) Older cars lack a smart key. Virtually every vehicle sold (with the exception of some fleets trucks and vans, as well as those that are equipped with a diesel engine) are equipped with a smartkey with an embedded code that must be matched up with the ignition cylinder, in order to start the vehicle. If you tried to stick another key in there, no luck. Of course, with some older remotes, you can programme it to lock and unlock the vehicle. So, getting a key for an older vehicle is as simple as going down to the dealership with the VIN in hand, and requesting a new key. Heck, I did that with my old 2006 Kia Spectra. It was really convenient for both me and thieves alike.
Speaking of dealerships and smartkeys…
2) Some thieves are outsourcing their smart keys. Some of them have gotten wise to this, and rather than use the old tools of the trade (re: using a screwdriver or hot-wiring a car), they can simply pay off some parts guy to hook them up with a smart key with the embedded code already in it. In fact, according to the NICB, this type of crime is on the rise, with about 277 vehicles that were stolen within a week of the “key code transactions” (those smart keys that were replaced). I look for that number to increase year by year, until the dealerships develop a way to crack down on this, and minimise the chance of theft.
So, if you drive one of these vehicles and don’t want it stolen, here are some helpful tips (it may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how often people don’t do this…or so I’ve heard):
1) Lock your vehicle’s doors, even if you’re just “running in for a minute”. A minute is all that they need.
2) Keep all of your valuables hidden. That includes things like CDs, spare change, and bags and briefcases. That might not be as obvious as a stack of hundreds laying in the front seat, but some low-level thieves are willing to gamble/get desperate enough to at least smash and grab.
3) Don’t keep your keys in the front seat, or a spare anywhere in your vehicle. If the aforementioned thief decides to enter your vehicle and sees the key, they could at the very least go for a joyride…and the worst case scenario, either trash your vehicle, or strip it down for parts. Or burn it. Or both.
4) Don’t keep your keys in a conspicuous place in your house. Now, you’re probably wondering why I would say that, since we’re talking about keeping your car from getting stolen. Well, about a decade ago, my ex-girlfriend’s place was broken into and ransacked. They got the dolphin necklace that I had gave her for Christmas the following year, and a few other things. What were they looking for? The keys to her 1994 Nissan Sentra…ironically, number ten on this list. They had taken it for a joyride and whenever they were done with it, they trashed the inside. Needless to say, she moved to a better area and got the inside fixed.
5) Don’t go into shady neighbourhoods. Again, kind of a common sense move, but unless you’re broken down somewhere, don’t stop…even for gas or directions. Plan your routes/trips out ahead of time.
So, whether you drive an 1991 Toyota Camry, or one of the three Hondas on the list (the Acura Integra was made by Honda…I had an ’92 3-door LS myself, great car), doing these things will greatly reduce the risk of getting your car broken into, and/or stolen. I’ll leave you with this fun fact…since 2008, the 1994 Honda Accord has topped the list. So either the same cars get stolen every year, or it’s a matter of time before every one of them gets stolen.
You should go ahead and trade that car in on a Kia Optima or something.
NICB Press Release:
NICB Names 10 Most-Stolen Vehicles for 2011
Key Code Thefts a Growing Concern
DES PLAINES, Ill. – The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released Hot Wheels − its list of the 10 most-stolen vehicles in the United States. The report examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and determines the vehicle make, model and model year most reported stolen in 2011.
See the full report at www.nicb.org.
For 2011, the most-stolen vehicles* in the nation were:
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1998 Honda Civic
3. 2006 Ford Pickup (Full Size)
4. 1991 Toyota Camry
5. 2000 Dodge Caravan
6. 1994 Acura Integra
7. 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
8. 2004 Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
9. 2002 Ford Explorer
10. 1994 Nissan Sentra
Each year, NICB reviews all NCIC vehicle theft records to produce its national and state lists of the 10 most-stolen vehicles. Hot Wheels is the only report that examines all theft data without regard to a vehicle’s insured status − if a vehicle was reported stolen to law enforcement, it is captured in this report.
The top 10 places were evenly split in 2011 with five belonging to foreign brands and five to U.S. automakers. Most popular models among the domestic brands were Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet pickup trucks each holding one spot with the Dodge Caravan and Ford Explorer rounding out the domestic models.
Once again, 2011 is on track to continue the national vehicle theft decline. Preliminary 2011 FBI crime statistics indicate a 3.3 percent reduction from the 737,142 thefts recorded in 2010. Vehicle thefts have not been this low since 1967.
“While overall thefts continue to decline, we are seeing a trend toward increases in the thefts of late model vehicles − ones that are theoretically harder to steal due to sophisticated key code technology,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.
“Today’s vehicle thieves are typically professional criminals who have figured out how to get the key code for a specific vehicle, have a replacement key made, and steal the vehicle within a matter of days. We are aware of nearly 300 thefts that took place in the first three months of this year in which we believe replacement keys using illegally obtained key codes were used to steal the vehicle. We are working closely with our member companies, law enforcement, and the vehicle manufacturers to track these illegal key code transactions and stop the thefts or recover the stolen vehicles before they can be resold here or shipped out of the country to be sold overseas.”
For more on key code thefts, watch this video.
Even one theft is one too many if it happens to you. NICB urges motorists to follow its “layered approach” to auto theft prevention. By employing these simple, low-cost suggestions, people can make their vehicles less attractive to thieves.
NICB’s four layers of protection are:
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 item that can 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.
Considering a used vehicle purchase? Check out VINCheckSM, a free vehicle history service for consumers. Since 2005, NICB has offered this limited service made possible by its participating member companies. Check it out at: www.nicb.org/vincheck.
Anyone with information concerning vehicle theft and insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting our website at www.nicb.org.
About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $339 billion in insurance premiums in 2011, or approximately 80 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 94 percent ($156 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.
* This report reflects stolen vehicle data reported to NCIC in 2011. No further filtering of information is conducted (i.e., determining the total number of a particular make and model currently registered in the U.S. for comparison purposes). For purposes of this report, full size pickups include half ton and larger capacity models for all makes.