Car theft skyrockets thanks to rising parts prices

On a 2016 Toyota Camry, 15 commonly stolen parts cost $11,000

Cars and trucks today have achieved a high level of average quality, with safety and technology features that keep occupants safer than ever and meet consumers' high expectations. But the National Insurance Crime Bureau finds that those components come with a rising price tag, leading to expensive repair bills — and rising vehicle thefts to support a thriving black market for parts.

The nonprofit NICB said it looked at the cost of replacement parts for the top 10 stolen 2016 models, with average OEM part prices pulled from a database of more than 24 million vehicle damage appraisals generated for 2016 and 2017 insurance claims. The list did not include major components like engines or transmissions, only easily-stripped components like bumpers, doors, hoods and headlights.

It found that:
  • The 2016 Toyota Camry, which had a used market value of around $15,000, had 15 commonly replaced parts that added up to almost $11,000, not including labor, with quarter panels alone costing almost $1,600 a pair and a set of alloy wheels tallying more than $1,600. The Camry was also the top stolen vehicle in 2016 at 1,113 thefts.
  • A 2016 Nissan Altima had 14 standard parts worth more than $14,000, including a single headlamp assembly that costs just over $1,000. The Altima was the second-top stolen vehicle in 2016 at 1,063 vehicles stolen.
  • And the 2016 GMC Sierra pickup, which was No. 7 on the 2016 top-stolen list, rang up $21,000 from 20 standard components, including an $1,100 headlamp assembly and an $1,100 rear bumper.
"For the professional theft ring, stealing and stripping vehicles for parts has always been a lucrative business," Jim Schweitzer, NICB's senior vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "On today's cars and trucks, the parts are often worth more than the intact vehicle and may be easier to move and sell. That's why we see so many thefts of key items like wheels and tires and tailgates ... there's always a market for them." Check out the NICB infographic below.

Vehicle thefts in the U.S. rose by more than 4 percent in 2017, based on preliminary FBI data, after rising 7.6 percent in 2016, though the overall trend has been down since vehicle thefts peaked in 1991, according to the NICB.

Related Video:

Share This Photo X