If you think thieves prefer brand-new flashy cars, think
The 1994 Honda Accord was the most stolen vehicle in the United
States last year, followed by the 1995 Honda Civic and the 1991
Toyota Camry, according to the new "Hot Wheels" report released by
the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
The top 10 most-stolen vehicles
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1991 Toyota Camry
4. 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
5. 1997 Ford F150 Series/Pickup
6. 2004 Dodge Ram
7. 2000 Dodge Caravan
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 2002 Ford Explorer
10. 1999 Ford Taurus
Source: NICB, based on auto thefts in 2010
The top three vehicles on this year's list held the same
positions last year, and Toyota and Honda models have held the top
three slots since 2000.
"For a lot of years, Toyotas and Hondas here outpaced domestic
brands, both in sales and durability," says NICB spokesperson Frank
Scafidi. "There are more of them on the road, and the people who
own them take care of them."
But for the first time since 2000, domestic brands outnumber
foreign models in the top 10. Ford took three spots, Dodge took
two, and Chevrolet held one, while the remaining four were held by
Honda, Toyota and Acura. All those models were in the top 10 on
last year's list, too, except the 1999 Ford Taurus, which this year
edged out the 2009 Toyota Corolla for the No. 10 position.
The report is based on 2010 theft data submitted by law
enforcement to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Oldies but goodies
All the top 10 stolen vehicles are at least seven years old, and
most date back to the 1990s. When the oldest car on the list, the
'91 Camry, was introduced, the first President George Bush was in
the White House. Of the almost 52,000 Honda Accords stolen in 2010,
more than 44,000 were made in the 1990s, compared with fewer than
5,700 that were produced since the year 2000, according to the
Old cars are stolen more frequently because new cars are
equipped with technology that makes them harder to steal and easier
to track down if they get swiped. Smart-key systems communicate
electronically with the car's computer system. Unless the driver
has the smart key, the engine can't be started. With services like
OnStar, authorities can track stolen vehicles and remotely slow
them down and stop them.
Of course no vehicle is 100 percent theft-proof. New cars do get
stolen, but the crime requires some sophistication.
"There are some geeks out there who look at this as a
challenge," Scafidi says. "Fortunately, there are not too many of
those propeller heads running around."
Newer, more expensive vehicles often are stolen to be resold
intact with counterfeit vehicle identification numbers or shipped
out of the country. Older cars are usually stolen for their parts
(which are more valuable than the cars themselves), joyriding or
simply to get from one place to another.
"For some it's easier to steal a car than figure out a bus
schedule," Scafidi says.
Car theft driven down by technology and police
New technology and police stings have driven down car theft over
the last several years. Preliminary 2010 FBI crime statistics show
a 7.2 percent decline in thefts compared to 2009. If the
preliminary numbers hold, 2010 will post the fewest vehicle thefts
Unlike other lists of most stolen cars, NICB's "Hot Wheels"
report includes all stolen vehicles, not just those that were
insured. Liability car insurance, which is required by all states
except New Hampshire, covers only damage and injuries drivers cause
to others in crashes. Only comprehensive
, which is optional, covers vehicle theft.
Although car theft is declining, the pain of having a car stolen
still is the same.
"Even if we get to a day when there are only half a dozen auto
thefts a year, if you're one of those people whose car is stolen,
it's still a huge hassle," Scafidi says.
NICB recommends using common sense to prevent car theft -- lock
your car and take the keys -- and to take advantage of today's
anti-theft technology, including alarms and electronic immobilizing
and tracking devices.
If you're considering buying a used car, make sure it hasn't
been reported stolen. NICB's free online
service lets you conduct a search on the vehicle identification