Hot Wheels Classics: ’57 Chevy Popular Among Thieves

April 10, 2013

The ’57 Chevy is instantly recognized by auto enthusiasts the world over and equally cherished by discriminating auto thieves as well. Last August, none other than television therapist Dr. Phil McGraw had to be consoled after learning that his ‘57 Chevy, valued at $100,000 was stolen from a repair shop in Burbank, Calif. It was one of 42 thefts of ’57 Chevys reported to law enforcement in 2012.

Long the national leader in overall vehicle thefts, it was not surprising that Dr. Phil’s ’57 Chevy was among California’s theft statistics in 2012. Indeed, California posted the most ’57 Chevy thefts (1958-2012) with 6,700. It was followed by Texas (2,171), New York (1,286), Washington (909), and Missouri (705).

1957 Chevy
1957 Chevy

The most ’57 Chevy thefts occurred during calendar year 1972 when 3,071 were stolen. Then, in descending order, it was 1973 (2,682), 1974 (2,098), 1969 (1,648), and 1970 (1,478).

NICB reviewed ’57 Chevy theft data contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) vehicle theft file from 1958-2012 and identified 23,250 theft records. As always, readers should note that inconsistency and inaccuracy with vehicle theft reporting may impact the accuracy and reliability of this data.

As soon as the ’57 Chevy rolled off General Motors’ assembly lines it was destined to be a classic. With its chrome-topped tail fins and twin chrome hood rockets, it was as forward thinking as it was striking in appearance. In “A Century of Chevrolet” published in October, 2011 by Automotive News, John Kraman, director of consignments for Mecum Auctions in Marengo, Ill. said, “These cars are so sought after and iconic because of the legacy buyers who put these cars on a pedestal. It’s about the aura, the image and reputation, which have been somewhat romanticized by shows and books. It’s the romantic notion that the past is better than the present.”

Romantic notions aside, in 1957 Dr. Phil’s Bel Air would have cost between $2,238 and $2,757, yet it is valued today at $100,000—not a bad bit of appreciation; and for a thief—all profit.

There is a happy ending to Dr. Phil’s story, by the way. In December, officers from Los Angeles County’s Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP)—which includes a NICB special agent—busted an auto theft ring in the Los Angeles area. Dr. Phil’s ’57 Chevy was among the stolen vehicles recovered at the scene.

While most consumers do not own a classic ‘57 Chevy, their vehicle is as likely to be stolen as any other—if the circumstances allow. Don’t leave keys in your vehicle and never leave it running while you stop for a quick visit at a convenience store—that’s all it takes to become a statistic. NICB urges motorists to follow its “layered approach” to auto theft prevention.” By employing these simple, low-cost suggestions, people can make their vehicles less attractive to thieves.

Source: NICB

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