If you are worried that car thieves are coveting your shiny new luxury car perhaps you should be more concerned about the other car in your garage, if it happens to be a 1994 Honda Accord. It turns out that's the car thieves really want.
Each year the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) picks its "Hot Wheels," its list of the 10 most-stolen vehicles in the United States for the previous year. 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.
The remarkable thing about the list is most of the cars are 1990s vintage. The newest model is a 2006 Ford pickup, which is the third most desirable vehicle in the eyes of a thief. Why isn't your 2010 Toyota Prius or 2011 Volkswagen Passat on the list?
It's not that they aren't nice vehicles, but the reason a thief takes a car is usually to strip it down and sell the parts. Older vehicles are more valuable because there are more vehicles like them on the road that need parts. An increasing number of stolen cars are being resold -- intact -- overseas.
The top 10 "hot cars" 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.
Here's the complete list:
Car thefts have declined in recent years and NICB says 2011 appears to uphold that trend. 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. And while older models tend to dominate the list of most stolen vehicles, that doesn't mean your late model car is safe.
"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."
NICB says it is aware of nearly 300 thefts that took place in the first three months of this year in which thieves possessed replacement keys using illegally obtained key codes. The group says many thefts can be prevented by simply locking your car and taking your keys. More sophisticated and expensive deterrents include a warning system, an immobilizing device and a tracking device.