Pickup trucks are still the most popular vehicles among thieves in West Virginia.
The National Crime Insurance Bureau’s latest “Hot Wheels” report shows five of the top 10 vehicles stolen in West Virginia last year were pickup trucks.
The most stolen vehicle in the state was the 1990 full-size Chevrolet pickup. It unseated the Ford F-150, which had topped the list for two straight years. The 1997 F-150 was second on the list.
They were followed by the 1994 Ford Ranger, 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier, 1997 Chevrolet S-10 pickup, 1999 Dodge Ram, 1999 Ford Taurus, 2002 Ford Explorer, 1994 Honda Accord and 2002 Dodge Caravan.
State Police Sgt. Mike Lynch tells the Charleston Daily Mail that older models are targeted because they usually aren’t equipped with security devices.
Newer models commonly have security devices like Smart Chips in keys that are tied to the vehicle ignition system and do a good job of preventing theft.
“It’s no longer a simple matter of hotwiring a vehicle,” Lynch said. “Even motorcycles like Harley-Davidsons have a theft security system now built into their ignitions.
“That seems to be the way manufacturers are going, and the auto insurance industry is helping to promote that because they have fewer claims they have to hand out.”
FBI preliminary data shows that auto thefts nationwide dropped 7.2 percent last year, on top of a 17 percent decline the year before.
“With the technology now, that’s going to prohibit theft and really 5 to 10 years down the road when all these aging vehicles are going to be scrapped, you can look for vehicle thefts to continue to go down,” Lynch said.
He said most thefts occur when owners accidentally leave their vehicle unlocked or put keys out in the open.
“Greed and opportunity – when those two combine, that’s typically where you’re going to have a theft or a crime occur,” he said.
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