Are You At Risk For Auto Theft?

by Don Elliott on September 22, 2011

The FBI reports that a motor vehicle is stolen every 40 seconds in the United States. Using an average valuation of $6,500, that makes car theft a whopping $5.2 billion business. These figures don’t include the costs to investigate the auto thefts, rising car insurance premiums, and the victims’ loss of time and money.

FBI statistics show that auto thefts were down 7.2% from 2009 to 2010. That is the lowest rate since 1967. However, car insurance fraud is up 46% in the period 2007 to 2009, corresponding directly with the state of the economy.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) tracks car insurance statistics to determine liability for all sorts of crime. Each year they publish their top 10 most stolen vehicles. For 2010, their “Hot Wheels” list includes:

  1. 1994 Honda Accord
  2. 1995 Honda Civic
  3. 1991 Toyota Camry
  4. 1999 Chevy 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

This list includes all auto theft data, without regard to insurance status. Most of the cars on this list were stolen for parts and because they lack transponder key systems. Transponder key systems are an important deterrent for amateur car thieves.

Where you live definitely impacts the probability that your car will be stolen. It is not a surprise that urban and high crime areas have the highest auto theft rates. 8 of the top 10 metro areas with the highest auto theft rates in 2010 were in California.

The NCIB suggests four tips to make your car less attractive to car thieves.

  • Lock your car and take your keys. A surprising number of late model car thefts happen while the car is running or with the key left in the ignition.
  • Most new cars have an audible or visible warning device that deters thieves. Lock your car every time you park to activate the security system.
  • Security devices that immobilize your car are extremely effective. If the car won’t start, thieves will go away.
  • Add a car tracking device. The best-known systems are LoJack and OnStar. Both devices include a GPS transmitter that allows authorities to track the location of the car by computer. OnStar not only tracks the car, but can also shut the car down remotely.

The use of common sense is probably the most obvious deterrent. Park in well lit areas, hide your valuables or lock them in the trunk, use your garage, and be aware of your surroundings.

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