Insurance Bureau Says More SUVs, CUVs, Tailgates Getting Stolen

A recent National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) report shows that almost 20,000 2009-11 model year sports utility (SUVs) and crossover sports utility vehicles (CUVs) were reported stolen between 2008 and mid-year 2012. Those popular car types have also “become favored by car thieves,” according to the bureau.

SUVs are light-truck types that cross a pickup truck’s towing features with the passenger capacity of minivans. CUVs are more akin to hatchbacks and station wagons.

CUV thefts outnumbered SUV thefts 12,070 to 7,891 between 2008 and June 2012, according to the report.

The Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Edge were the most-stolen CUVs in that period, according to the report. The Chevy Tahoe, Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee were the most stolen SUVs in that period.

The following are theft figures between both vehicle types:
–Ford Escape (CUV): 1,014 thefts
–Chevy Tahoe (SUV): 856 thefts
–Toyota RAV4 (CUV): 801 thefts
–Ford Edge (CUV): 739 thefts
–Dodge Journey (CUV): 721 thefts
–Honda CR-V (CUV): 643 thefts
–Jeep Wrangler (SUV): 643 thefts
–Jeep Grand Cherokee (SUV): 641 thefts
–Nissan Rogue (CUV): 547 thefts
–Nissan Murano (CUV): 473 thefts

Total reported SUV and CUV thefts have jumped significantly nationwide, according to the NICB, which presented data going back to 2008, when there were 511 such thefts. That figure soared to 3,162 the following year, jumped again to 5,402 in 2010, then to 7,580 in 2011.

During the first half of 2012, there were 3,306 reported thefts, the report said.

As it goes for car theft statistics in general, the report showed that California is also home to the most SUV and CUV thefts, with 3,003. That far outpaced the next state, Texas, which had 1,826 thefts during the same period. Florida followed closely with 1,784.

When looking at more localized areas, the New York/Long Island/Northern New Jersey area ranked highest for thefts during that time by far, with 2,438. Theft victims in that area shouldn’t expect to get their vehicle back; it had nearly four times more unrecovered thefts than other areas in the report.

The Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana area was second-highest in total theft numbers, with 1,229, while California had the third-highest number of unrecovered SUVs and CUVs states in the U.S.

Theft Claims of Pickup Truck Tailgates Rising Since 2009

The NICB also recently published a report on thefts of tailgates.

Insurance claims involving tailgate theft rose astronomically between 2009, when there were 16 such tailgate thefts, and 2010, when that figure exploded to 430.

NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi said that, though there is no “empirical foundation” to support a reason in the insurance claims increase, strong demand for tailgates in the resale market is likely the main driver.

The number rose again in 2011, when there were 472 such incidents. With 418 tailgate thefts through the third quarter of 2012, the NICB projects another increase to 557 for last year.

High-end tailgates, usually equipped with cameras allowing drivers to see behind them when they back up, can cost $3,600 to replace, while the average tailgate costs about $1,200, according to the insurance bureau.

Thieves resell the parts on Ebay and Craigslist and also scrap yards, where “the rising cost of metal has made it lucrative to sell these parts there,” according to the report.

“The reasons why anything is stolen are because the item is easy to steal and easy to convert to cash,” Scafidi said in an interview with Online Auto Insurance News. “There is always a market for an item that can be obtained well below retail.”

The bureau also noted that thieves target tailgates because they can be stolen simply and quickly, and are usually taken in less than 30 seconds.

However, devices are available that lock tailgate hinges to the vehicle and make theft more difficult. The insurance bureau also suggests simple deterrents like parking the back of the vehicle tightly against a wall or in a locked garage.

The 2008 Ford F250 showed the highest number of tailgate thefts, according to the report, followed by the 2010 Ford F150.

Texas was home to the most tailgate thefts (451), followed by California (272) and Arizona (125).

Three cities in Texas—Houston, San Antonio and Dallas—were the cities where the first-, second- and third-highest number of tailgate thefts occurred, respectively, between 2009 and 2012.

Comprehensive Coverage Crucial to Victims

The optional comprehensive portion of a car insurance policy covers a range of incidents, including vehicle theft.

Scafidi said that comprehensive coverage also typically covers car-part-related “thefts from vehicles” like tailgates.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a little more than 3 out of every 4 drivers decide to buy car coverage with that additional protection.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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