1989 Toyota Camry Favorite for Thieves

March 19, 2003

In 2002, for the fourth time in the last five years, the 1989 Toyota Camry topped the target list of auto thieves, according to CCC Information Services Inc.

The 1989 Camry bumps last year’s most stolen vehicle, the 1991 Toyota Camry, to the No. 2 slot in 2002. The percentage of total losses due to theft declined last year, falling three percent, according to CCC’s data analysis.

CCC, a technology provider to the automotive-claims and collision-repair industry, identifies the most-stolen vehicles each year by analyzing total losses submitted to it by more than 350 property and casualty insurers in North America. In 2002, CCC valued an average of more than 6,400 vehicles a day. It bases its report on vehicles stolen and deemed a total loss or those never recovered. CCC doesn’t include such temporary auto-related thefts as “joy-rides” or theft of car items such as stereos.

“We process nearly a million claims-related transactions each day, giving us a wealth of theft and collision data which allows us to provide awareness to consumers regarding vehicle trends such as theft,” Mary Jo Prigge, CCC’s president of sales and service, commented.

In 2002, according to the latest report:

Toyota and Honda models comprised 20 of the top 25 most-stolen vehicles. The Honda Accord is the most stolen vehicle regardless of model year and the 1987 Toyota Camry is the oldest car to make the top 100 list, coming in at No. 25.

Of the four domestic vehicles to make the top 25 list, all are trucks. The 1994 Chevrolet C1500 4X2, 1997 Ford F150 4X2, 2001 Ford F150 4×2 and 1997 Chevrolet C1500 4×2. And, Chevrolet continues to lead as the most-stolen make regardless of model, comprising more than 14 percent of total theft volume.

Minivans and sport utility vehicles continue to gain the attention of thieves, reflecting their continued growth in popularity, as 2002 marked a 10 percent increase in thefts since 2000.

Thefts of full-sized models and “muscle cars,” like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, continue to slide, reflecting their fall-off in popularity with consumers.

“Though we cannot determine with absolute certainty the reason for vehicle theft, trends suggest that cars are often stolen for the value of their parts,” Prigge said. “Vehicle theft historically follows consumers’ choices, which is reflected in the popularity of imports and the gaining popularity of minivans and SUVs among thieves.”

Toyotas and Hondas lead the most-stolen list likely due to their popularity with consumers. But these cars are also popular with thieves because they tend to have interchangeable parts amongst their model years, creating a profitable market for replacement parts.

In the top 100 most stolen cars, a clustering of Toyota and Honda model-years highlights the potential interchangeable nature and demand for their parts. The 1987-1991 Camry models and Civics from model years 1993-2000 all are represented in the top 100. This cluster points out that a bumper, for example, from a 1987 Camry is likely to fit a different Camry model year.

Minivans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have seen an increase in thefts in 2002, with thefts of these models in the top 100 increasing 10 percent since 2000.

Conversely, thefts of full-sized models and “muscle cars” are decreasing. The Chevy Camaro, for instance, was the 36th most stolen car last year, down from the 16th most stolen vehicle in 1997. The full-sized model with the largest drop in theft regardless of model year is the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, falling to number 40 from No. 7 in 1997.

State-Level Vehicle Theft
In California, which has the highest theft volume in the country, thieves historically prefer imports – a trend that continued in 2002. Like the nation, the state’s most stolen vehicle was the 1989 Toyota Camry. Only four domestic cars appeared in the state’s top 25 list – 1993 Saturn SL, 1994 Chevrolet C1500 4×2, 1994 Saturn SL, and the 1995 Saturn SL.

New York car thieves also prefer imports. In 2002, 23 of the top 25 most stolen vehicles in the state were imports.

Mirroring consumer choice in Texas, pickup trucks dominated the state’s most-stolen vehicles, taking the first 11 slots and 20 of the top 25. The most stolen vehicle was the 1994 Chevrolet C1500 4×2.

In Michigan, domestic cars are a favorite. Of the top 50 most stolen vehicles there, all are domestic cars.

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