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Older Honda Accords, Civics continue to top most stolen car rankings

Honda Accord and Civic are most stolen vehicles in the U.S.
Older Hondas and other models most likely stolen because of improvements in anti-theft technology
Auto theft is on a long downward decline in the U.S.

Honda’s Accord and Civic sedans were the two most stolen vehicles in America last year, according to the latest Hot Wheels report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Thieves stole 53,995 Accords last year, and another 45,001 of the smaller Civic sedan.
Pickup trucks were the next two most stolen vehicles. Criminals snatched 27,809 Chevrolet Silverados last year and another 26,594 Ford F-series trucks.

The Toyota Camry rounded out the list of the most stolen vehicles with 14,420 taken last year.
All five of the vehicles have been among the best selling autos in the U.S. for years, so its no surprise that they also top the stolen list.

Although the Honda sedans were the most stolen vehicles, its primarily older versions of the cars.
While Honda sold more than 336,000 Civics in 2013, the sedan doesn’t show up on the top 25 list of the most 2013 model year vehicles stolen last year, according to the insurance group.

The Accord ranks just 23rd, with only 276 cars from the 2013 model year stolen out of 367,000 sold last year. That compares with the 1996 model year Accord, which was stolen 8,166 times last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Looking at Honda thefts by model year, there is an 88% drop from the 1998 generation of the sedan to last year’s model.

One reason why Honda is at the top of the list annually is that “there are more older Honda on the road than many other brands,” said Robyn Eagles, a spokeswoman for the Japanese automaker. “And the technology prior to 1997 made it easier to steal cars.”

The 1998  model was the first Accord with “smart keys” or transponder keys.

New car buyers worried about theft should look at the list of the most stolen 2013 model year vehicles. That was topped by the Nissan Altima, followed by the Ford Fusion, F-series truck, Toyota Corolla and Chevrolet Impala. But even so, these vehicles are stolen at just a fraction of the rate of older versions of the same models.

Overall the number of vehicles being stolen is on a long decline. Using Federal Bureau of Investigation data, the insurance group estimates that national vehicle thefts fell 3.2% last year to less than under 700,000. That is the lowest since 1967 and a 57% drop since 1991.

“Stealing a car has become much more difficult for the garden variety auto thief,” said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Not only do smart keys and immobilizers render the use of ‘hot wiring’ a thing of the past, to stay in the auto theft game requires a lot more technical skill than folks might be willing to learn.”

Moreover, the chances of being caught are higher now than in previous times, Scafidi said. That makes the risk high enough to push former auto thieves into other crimes such as copper theft or online scams, he said.

Still the number of vehicles being stolen annually amounts to one every 45 seconds and losses of over $4 billion a year, he said.

The easiest way for driver to prevent their cars from being stolen is to remember to lock their cars and take their keys when they leave the vehicle, the insurance group advised.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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