Just last week we told you that car theft in America is declining. The bad news, though, is that recovery of stolen cars is also declining, so unless you’ve got a tracking system installed chances are better than 50/50 that you won’t be getting your ride back. Don’t think you’re safe if you your car isn’t new, because the most stolen car in America last year was a 15 year old Honda Accord.
According to the National Crime Insurance Bureau, these cars were most frequently stolen across the U.S. in 2009:
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1991 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup
5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
7. 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 2002 Ford Explorer
10. 2009 Toyota Corolla
So why do thieves generally target older cars for theft? First, they’re easier to steal since most don’t use ignition immobilizers or any other high-tech anti-theft measures. Next, the cars may not be valuable whole, but parted out they return much more than the sum of the parts.
Why does this list differ from others we’ve told you about? Because other lists, which feature the Cadillac Escalade in the top position, are created by insurance companies and based upon theft claims paid. The NICB list is the only one to show thefts regardless of whether or not a vehicle is insured; in other words, this list is a better indication of which vehicles are “high risk”.
So what can you do to ensure your ’95 Civic stays parked in your driveway? The NICB recommends a “four layer” approach to security, which includes:
Common Sense – roll up your windows, lock your doors and take your keys with you
Warning Device – even if that blinking red LED on your dash isn’t really connected to an alarm, chances are a thief won’t know this. Even a window sticker saying that you’ve got an alarm is better than nothing.
Immobilizing Device – kill switches or battery disconnects are cheap and relatively easy to install. A car that won’t start requires a tow truck to steal.
Tracking Device – it’s probably not cost-effective to install Lojack on a 15 year old car, unless you’re really attached to it. Still, a tracking system is the best way to ensure your car gets found if it is stolen.
Want more information, including state-specific theft rates? Head on over to the NICB website.