Most frequently stolen cars -- and how to avoid losing yours

Car parts in junk yardAs of Sept. 1, almost 100,000 cars stolen this year in the U.S. have not been recovered, bad news for owners. Worse news for owners, however, is that 62% of them were uninsured, so the owner had to absorb the loss. However, if you think that the most desirable cars top the list of those stolen, think again. The most often stolen cars are old junkers.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the 10 most stolen vehicles in 2009 were:
  1. 1994 Honda Accord - 15 years old
  2. 1995 Honda Civic -- 14 years old
  3. 1991 Toyota Camry -- 18 years old
  4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup -- 12 years old
  5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup -- 5 years old
  6. 2000 Dodge Caravan -- 9 years old
  7. 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) -- 15 years old
  8. 1994 Acura Integra -- 15 years old
  9. 2002 Ford Explorer -- 7 years old
  10. 2009 Toyota Corolla -- new
According to Kelly Blue Book, a '94 Accord DX in good shape is only worth about $1,700.

So why would these clunkers be stolen more often than new, sexy rides? There are several possible reasons.
  1. Easy to steal: Unlike more recent models, older cars are easier to break into, and are less likely to be garaged.
  2. Value of parts: Some of these models can be stripped of parts which can be resold profitably.
  3. Peer on peer crime: Just as thieves from impoverished neighborhoods tend to prey on others in the same condition rather than breaking into houses in rich areas, car thieves may tend to steal cars and trucks in those same neighborhoods.
  4. Need: Those stolen pickups and vans are useful for carrying supplies for people in the day-worker community, as well as those taking part in illegal activities. With a pickup truck, you can steal bigger items.
Just because the most stolen cars are old models doesn't mean your ride is immune from theft. How can you avoid having your car stolen? There are no sure-fire ways, but you can reduce the probability by
  • Keeping your car locked, and avoid leaving it running while unattended
  • Don't leave enticing objects in view; this includes paperwork that might allow the thief to steal your identity too
  • Don't hide a spare key in a magnetic case secreted on your car
  • Park in well-lit, ideally guarded locations
  • Consider a car alarm
One ray of hope: According to FBI statistics, vehicle theft is declining, down 12.7% between 2007 and 2008.
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