Honda Accord Tops List of Stolen Vehicles (Again)

Attention Honda Accord owners: keep locking your cars up.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released its annual list of the most stolen cars in the U.S., and the data show the Accords built between 1990-97 were the most popular autos for thieves. In all, 58,596 were lifted last year, according to the report.

The ’94 Accord has been the most-stolen vehicle in the nation since 2008, according to the NICB.

Honda Civics built during the same period ranked second in the NICB’s annual Hot Wheels list, with 47, 037 stolen in 2012.

“Pre-1997 model years did not have ‘smart key’ technology,” said NICB spokesman Frank Scafadi. “That has helped prevent thefts, and the technology in more recent years is even more effective.”

Older cars, Scafadi said, are just easier to steal. Newer Hondas, NICB notes, are “rarely stolen” due to improved anti-theft technology.

Meanwhile, older Ford (26,770) and Chevy (23,745) full-size trucks are highly targeted by auto thieves.

“They are highly desired and in some parts of the country, they are very plentiful, thus the black market for parts is thriving,” Scafadi said.

Different Targets for Different Regions

For the first time in the history of the survey, the NICB did a state-by-state comparison of the top ten stolen vehicles, and it shows that in rural states trucks are more popular for thieves. For example, in Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida and Alabama, full-sized trucks were stolen more often than sedans, minivans and SUVs.

In the nation’s Rustbelt, home to the domestic car industry, older GM and Ford products made the list. In Ohio, 1990s era Oldsmobile models made the top 10, despite the car line’s being shut down by GM. The list in Indiana and Michigan, once home to thousands of auto workers, is made up entirely of domestic models. Domestic cars also made up the entire list in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Another noteworthy finding is that not one hybrid or electric model cracked the top 10 in any state.

“Hybrids do indeed get stolen, but their numbers are not high enough to be captured in this kind of analysis,” Scafadi said.

Nissan Altima Tops List of Stolen 2012 Models

Nissan boasts that its 2012 Altima utilizes Intelligent Key technology. Yet many thieves must be just a bit smarter than those keys, as 921 Altimas were stolen last year, according to the report.

Similar keyless entry systems are used in the other 2012 vehicles that made NICB’s top 25 list. Security experts warn that thieves could manipulate radio frequencies to open and start vehicles, without leaving a trace that the cars were broken into. The Chevy Impala and Malibu made up the rest of the top three, and Ford models accounted for five of the most popular 25 cars stolen.

According to a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, radio-unlocking equipment can cost thieves anywhere from $50 to $1,000, depending on the type of vehicle.

Still, thieves overwhelmingly preferred older cars to 2012 models.

Preventing Car Theft

Overall, car thefts are down by more than 50 percent since 1991, the peak year for stolen vehicles according to the FBI. In 2012, there were just over 700,000 stolen vehicles, compared to 21 years ago when that number topped 1.6 million.

According to an analysis by the FBI, stolen vehicles cost $4.3 billion in 2011, based on the average value assigned to a car by the Bureau. While the cost of replacing stolen cars has not been estimated yet for 2012, Scafadi estimates the number will again top $4 billion. That figure doesn’t count time lost from work, or the cost of police to investigate theft claims.

The NICB represents many auto insurance companies, and to help curb losses for their members, as well as lower premiums, the NICB recommends that car alarms, tracking devices and immobilizing devices such as “kill-switches” be deployed to guard against theft.

But Scafadi said the best way to prevent car thefts if for drivers to lock their doors.

“It sounds easy enough,” Scafadi said, “but many thefts can be avoided just by making sure the car is locked up.”

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