NICB: Toyota Corolla on Top in Thefts of Newer Compact Cars

Toyota Corolla Sarah LarsonToyota Corollas made between 2010 and 2012 are the most stolen of any later-model compact car, according to the latest report in the “catalog” of theft figures from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

The report, which broke down rates that different 2010-12 makes and models were stolen between April 2009 and December 2012, also contained theft figures of subcompact vehicles; compacts were stolen almost three times as much as subcompacts, 14,258 to 5,501.

Of both compacts and subcompacts, the NICB reported that the following vehicles were the most often stolen:

Rank Make & model Class Thefts
1 Toyota Corolla Compact 3,664
2 Ford Focus Compact 1,797
3 Honda Civic Compact 1,725
4 Nissan Versa Subcompact 1,499
5 Nissan Sentra Compact 1,216
6 Hyundai Elantra Compact 1,198
7 Mazda 3 Compact 1,085
8 Toyota Yaris Subcompact 1,072
9 Volkswagen Jetta Compact 993
10 Kia Forte Compact 863

Corolla’s Wide Popularity Contributes to Higher Theft Figures

Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the bureau, said that the Toyota Corolla is often atop other makes and models in theft numbers because it is “a widely popular model.”

“It presents an attractive target by its sheer volume on the roads,” Scafidi told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN).

Only two subcompact models, the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, broke into the top 10 rankings, but Scafidi said that the bureau would “need to have many more details about the individual thefts” for it to draw any conclusions about the strength of security features on compacts versus subcompacts.

Eight percent of cars between both vehicle classes went unrecovered, though a higher percentage of stolen subcompacts went unrecovered compared to compacts: 11 percent versus 6 percent.

The NICB also looked at recovery figures of stolen vehicles by “core-based statistical areas (CBSAs),” a geographic categorization based on broad metro areas, finding that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach CBSA in Florida had the highest number of unrecovered thefts.

Interestingly, the CBSA with the second-highest unrecovered theft figure was San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo in Puerto Rico.

If ranked as a state, Puerto Rico would have had the highest number of unrecovered thefts by a wide margin, at 565. The next-highest figure was Florida’s 187, according to the NICB.

When looking at theft figures overall, California outpaced all other states by far, with 4,205. However, if Puerto Rico was included as a state, the 1,021 such thefts reported there would have put it fourth-highest on the list, surpassing the 873 thefts reported in New York and 699 reported in Illinois.

Scafidi said the bureau lacks the data to conclusively comment on car theft in Puerto Rico.

“Indeed, Puerto Rico was a source for a lot of those thefts,” he said. “There could be a very high concentration of these vehicles in PR, but we don’t have that kind of data or any other theft data that would help us explain why it saw so many thefts.”

Tech Is ‘Huge Factor’ in Car Safety, Security

The NICB has released several reports on car theft this year so far, though this latest entry focuses on later-model 2010-12 vehicles.

According to Scafidi, “the evolution in ‘smart-key technology’” has become the single biggest deterrent to thieves who now have to deal with more sophisticated antitheft features if they want to lift a ride.

“That, more than anything else, has made stealing a car a very difficult thing to do,” Scafidi told OAIN about smart-key devices that are linked to a specific car’s locking, unlocking and starting features. “Not impossible, but not very easy to accomplish.”

Other antitheft technology like ignition cut-offs and GPS location have “been a huge factor” in theft figures that have, by and large, shrunk nationwide in the last decade, according to Scafidi.

Insurers often discount car insurance premiums for vehicles with antitheft technology.

If a driver is unfortunate enough to have a car swiped, he or she can turn to comprehensive coverage to compensate them, minus the deductible.

Of course, stopping a thief before that happens is ideal for a motorist.

Scafidi told OAIN that the best advice—though simple—has stayed “consistent” over the years:

  • “Lock your doors.”
  • “Take your keys.”
  • “Do not leave attractive items visible in your car.”
  • “If you have additional security features on your car, be sure to engage them when you leave your vehicle—no matter how long you will be away.”

For those parking overnight and can do so, Scafidi said that leaving a vehicle “in a garage or secure place where access is restricted” lowers the chance a vehicle is stolen.

But “no matter what,” he said, “if a sophisticated and capable thief wants your car, he’s going to get it.”

But fret not, driver. Scafidi also offered “good news.”

“The good news is that there are not that many sophisticated and capable car thieves running around these days,” he told OAIN.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Larson

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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