When the annual National Insurance Crime Bureau rankings came out there was a familiar name at the top of the list of cars most frequently stolen—Honda Accord. The other names were familiar too—Toytota Camry, Ford F150 and Honda Civic--as thieves like cars and trucks that are made in huge quantities as it makes them harder to pin down if they are left whole, and easier to pedal parts that are in such huge demand for high volume vehicles.
Why Newer Cars Are Being Pinched
But there was a new wrinkle in this year's report. Thieves have been pinching newer vehicles than in past years even though newer cars and trucks are more likely to have anti-theft systems. Turns out some of the new technology makes it even easier for tech-savvy thieves to make off with your new wheels.
Keys with embedded micro-chips that require a matching code from the vehicle and tracking technologies such as LoJack or General Motors’ OnStar are making new cars more vulnerable. The NICB says the thieves have been finding ways to crack those codes. Technology, it turns out, can be beaten by technology. Remember the film The Italian Job? There isn’t much that a sophisticated hacker with a laptop and the know-how can’t do.
Tips To Deter Thieves
Earlier this year, law enforcement arrested a car-theft ring in New York City that had used an inside source at a car dealership to make coded keys right outside the showroom at curbside and drive away cars at the dealership. In Europe, thieves have been making off with BMWs by re-programming cars through the data-access port that mechanics use to diagnose problems.
The best tips to keep your car safe are these: Make sure your car is always locked when you are not driving it; never leave valuables in plain sight on the seats or in the console; never leave the valet key in the car in plain sight; consider adding a mechanical theft deterrent, such as "The Club"; park your car in well-lit, locked places like parking garages.
Check out the list of most stolen cars and see if yours is on it.
10. Nissan Sentra
This one surprises us a bit. But the model year that makes No. 10 comes from way back in 1994. That older car was plain vanilla transportation. Today's Sentra is also fairly plain, competing against the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra -- all of which are newer, better designs than the Nissan. If you own one, though, and want to keep it, no matter the year, buy "The Club" or other device to try and deter criminals.
Check out the new Nissan Sentra.
9. Ford Explorer
Back around 1999 to 2002, Ford sold a heckuva lot of Explorers that took the place of minivans and station wagons with many buyers. The 2002 model is the one that made the top-ten list. The Explorer today sold by Ford is much different than the old one. The 2012 Explorer, a crossover now instead of a truck-based body-on-frame SUV, is more fuel efficient and a far better daily driver than the old model.
Check out the new Ford Explorer.
8. Ram Pickup
The model year of Ram that makes the list is 2004. Since then, the company has dropped "Dodge" from the pickup lineup and just sells the trucks as Ram. Pickup trucks are hot targets for thieves because they are so ubiquitous, and they are bought in bunches by some fleet purchasers. Unfortunately, thieves have found a ready market for stolen parts with people who have to keep a lot trucks on the road.
Check out the new Ram pickup.
7. Chevy Silverado
The Chevy Silverado shares all its parts with the GMC Sierra, which makes GM the number-one overall pickup seller. Thieves love these vehicles that are sold in huge volume.
Check out the new Silverado.
6. Acura Integra
Huh? Acura doesn't sell this model any more. But remember what we said about Honda parts? The company uses the same parts in so many cars across it's lineup that any Honda or Acura is a tasty target for thieves looking to strip the cars down. The Acura we like these days is the TL sedan, a legit challenger to the BMW 3 Series in our testing book. Make sure you get the security package. And it doesn't hurt, if you are going to park on the street, to detach the battery cable or maybe loosen a wire to your distributor cap. Most thieves will be so frustrated at not being able to quickly start your car that they will just abandon the idea and high-tail it out of there.
Check out the new Acura TL.
5. Dodge Caravan
The 2000 caravan that is on the most-stolen list was by far the best selling minivan of that era, and the van shares parts with Chrysler Town & Country. Check out the new Town & Country and Caravan, which has the most popular minivan feature in the category--Stow-and-Go seating, which allows both the second row and third row of seats to fold away into the floor.
Check out the new Dodge Grand Caravan.
4. Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry is the top selling passenger car in the U.S., so its ubiquity is attractive to thieves. If they want to sell the car whole or ship it over the border, it becomes hard to spot. After all, most Camrys are beige. And there is always a market for the parts.
Check out the new Toyota Camry.
3. Ford F-150
The Ford F1-50 is the top selling vehicle in the U.S. every year. Parts for the F-150 are especially in demand in the black market.
Check out the new Ford F-150.
2. Honda Civic
The reason Hondas are so popular among thieves is that the company uses parts across its vehicles, meaning the parts have a lot of cars to go into. The 1998 Civic is the one on the list here. The Civic was all new and redesigned for the 2012 model year, and has been in the news because it did not make Consumer Reports recommended list for the first time. Honda is making some improvements to the car to solve the issues that cropped up with the CR testers.
Check out the new Honda Civic.
1. Honda Accord
It is one of the top selling cars every year, which makes it a good target for thieves. Also, Honda uses the parts from the Accord in a lot of other vehicles, which makes them all the more marketable on the black market. The model year that made number-one on the list is the 1994 model. Honda launched an all-new Accord last Fall. Let's hope the new design is harder to break into.
Check out the new Honda Accord.