Hot Wheels for Sale!

February 28, 2005

The nation’s motor vehicle thieves continue to find the most popular automobiles as their primary targets for feeding the underground need for replacement parts and for export to foreign countries, reports a new industry study to identify the most stolen vehicle in 2003.

Hot Wheels, the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s companion study to its annual Hot Spots auto theft report, takes a look at the same data reported to the National Crime Information Center and determines the vehicle make, model, and model year most reported stolen in 2003.

NICB said that the top ten most stolen vehicles in 2003 by make, model, and model year were:

1. 2000 Honda Civic

2. 1989 Toyota Camry

3. 1991 Honda Accord

4. 1994 Chevrolet Full Size C/K 1500 Pickup

5. 1994 Dodge Caravan

6. 1997 Ford F150 Series

7. 1986 Toyota Pickup

8. 1995 Acura Integra

9. 1987 Nissan Sentra

10. 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass

“In 2003, 1,260,471 motor vehicles were reported stolen at an estimated value of over $8 billion. With recovery rates hovering near the 65 percent mark, that leaves a tremendous number of vehicles that are either cut up for parts, exported to other countries, or reappear as clones, the latest trend in an ever-expanding list of fraud schemes,” said Robert M. Bryant, president and chief executive officer of NICB.

“It is an unfortunate fact of life that there are people among us—greedy, unethical people—who consider insurance companies as nothing more than cash cows,” Bryant said. “What they don’t stop to consider, however, is that the money they seek ultimately comes right out of the pockets of their friends and relatives.”

NICB encourages everyone to follow its “layered approach” to auto theft protection by employing simple, low-cost suggestions to make their vehicles less attractive to thieves. NICB’s four layers are:

Common Sense: The cheapest form of defense is to simply employ the anti-theft devices that are standard on all vehicles: locks. Lock your car and take your keys.

Warning Device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another item that can ensure that your car remains where you left it.

Immobilizing Device: “Kill” switches, fuel cut-offs, and smart keys are among the devices which are high and low tech, but extremely effective. Generally speaking, if your car won’t start, it won’t get stolen.

Tracking Device: On the higher end of high tech are the newer devices which can alert you—and law enforcement—the moment an unauthorized user decides to take your wheels for a test drive.

Auto theft and related fraudulent activity accounts for a nearly $30 billion price-tag to insurance companies and their policyholders each year, reports the NICB. To help combat criminal activity, the NICB offers an anonymous hotline to report suspected fraud at: (800) TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422).

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