According to new data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, car thefts last year dropped to their lowest levels in 44 years. But despite the low numbers, thieves are continuing to snatch up popular older vehicles that provide few security features.
The 1994 Honda Accord was the most stolen car in the U.S. during 2011, with a total of 7,596 thefts. This is the fourth year in a row that the sedan has risen to the very top spot on the list. The 1994 Accord was made before Honda began using immobilizer systems, which makes it more difficult for thieves to hot-wire cars.
In second place is the 1998 Honda Civic – more bad news for Honda. This year marks the seventh straight year that a Honda car has topped the list.
The 2006 Ford F-Series is number three on the list, followed by the 1991 Toyota Camry, 2000 Dodge Caravan, 1994 Acura Integra, 1999 Chevrolet Silverado, 2004 Dodge Ram, 2002 Ford Explorer, and 1994 Nissan Sentra. (The report only tracks the most popular model year for each vehicle so that no vehicle can be listed twice.)
Even though older models tend to get stolen more frequently, owners of newer cars are not off the hook, according the NICB.
“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,” NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle said in a press statement. “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.
To prevent against vehicle theft, the NICB has a number of suggestions for all car owners. Owners should first use common sense and remember to lock their cars. It is also a good idea to install a visible/audible warning device and make sure the car has an immobilizer. A tracking device is another way to make a vehicle more secure, at least allowing police to recover the vehicle more efficiently after it is stolen. Advanced telematics systems such as GM’s OnStar have been proven to ward off car thieves.
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