What is it that you love about a car? What are its characteristics that make you want to own it? It might be the speed, towing strength, leg room, color, or manual transmission.
Or perhaps you prefer the safety features. Maybe you want something that’s great in the snow during the winter months, but great on gas mileage. The different qualities of a vehicle that you’re looking for varies widely based on your personal preferences. Indeed, it is this wide range of vehicle preferences that allows this many makes and models to exist in the first place.
A car thief is wearing a different set of glasses though. They look at the “car market” from a different perspective. Where the car owners could look at any one of hundreds of choices, the car thief is really only looking at about five. What this means for you is that if you own any of the vehicles we’ll be covering in this post you’ll need to take extra precautions to protect your property.
It’s well worth it to protect your property because not only can having your car stolen be devastating, there are also a lot of hassles that go along with it that most people don’t think about. For example, there are the insurance claims, there’s the loss of personal possessions within the vehicle, and getting the loan paid off if you have a traditional loan or an auto title loan on your vehicle.
In order to get a better idea of why thieves might want your car let’s take a second to get inside their heads and cover the top stolen cars and why thieves love them.
#1: Honda Accord
First up is the Honda Accord. Far and away, the Accord was the most stolen car in 2012. In fact, the National Insurance Crime Bureau did their most recent study on most stolen vehicles in 2014 and found that Honda Accords ranked first on the list, with 51,290 Honda Accords stolen in 2014 alone.
#2: Honda Civic
The second most popular stolen car is Honda again. This time, it’s the Civic, bringing in an estimate of 43,936 stolen Honda Civics in the year 2014.
So what’s up with Honda? The next closest car on the charts rates in at about half the number of the Civic alone. So while the lists goes on, Honda vehicles are still more than twice as popular to thieves than any other car on this list. Why are they the most stolen cars in America?
There are ultimately two reasons for this. The first reason is because they are old and easy to break into. The majority of the models stolen in 2012 ranged from 1990 to 2000. They were 12 plus years old and there’s hardly any security on those older models. Thieves don’t want to get caught so they look for the easiest, not the most expensive, targets.
The second reason is that thieves break the cars into pieces and sell the individual parts. Hondas are some of the most commonly owned cars in America. Since these vehicles are still puttering around in abundance (the Japanese really know how to make them last forever), there are plenty of customers out there that just need a door, or a radiator to make the car run for another 50,000 miles. Since Honda doesn’t make certain older parts anymore or the prices for parts are far too expensive to be worth it, customers look for cheaper used parts. Thieves provide those used opportunities, unbeknownst to the buyer.
That said, Honda has definitely learned from their mistakes (having been at the top of this list for a couple years now). If you look at the most commonly stolen newer vehicles, Honda doesn’t come close to the top.
#3: Full Size Ford Pickups
The third favorite car among thieves was the Ford pickup (full size). It weighed in at 28,680 stolen cars. Turns out it was a 90’s truck that thieves were targeting so often. Why were these stolen? Parts and convenience. Again, the thief is never going to make it hard on himself for fear that he might get caught. He’s also going to always target more common vehicles so the parts will sell quickly and easily.
#4 & #5: Full Size Chevrolet Pickup & Toyota Camry
Fourth is the Chevy pickup (full size) coming in at 23,196 reported missing cars, and fifth is the Toyota Camry at 14,605. The vast majority of these statistics have to do with older car models. They present such each targets that it makes sense they would be the most popular cars to steal.
How to Protect Your Car from Thieves
Fortunately, if you have one of these top 5 cars, there are steps you can take to deter thieves.
Park in a Garage
Don’t leave your car on the street if you can help it. If you can’t avoid parking on the street, then park it in a well-lit and populated area, especially at night. Thieves prefer the cover of darkness to accomplish their deeds, but if you park in a well-lit or busy area then you’ll deter thief activity.
But if you do have a garage, work on cleaning it out so you can use it for its intended purpose.
Keep Your Car Empty Inside
Leave the inside of the car bare boned. Don’t leave anything within sight as that can be the main source of temptation for thieves. This is a great tip too because keeping the inside of your car empty can give you an incentive to keep your car clean as well. If you do need to leave anything in your car put it under the seat, in the trunk, or in the glove compartment so that a thief scoping for items inside cars won’t see anything in yours.
Don’t Keep Your Car Title Inside Your Car
Never leave your title to the car in the vehicle itself. It’s almost a no-brainer to do this because if someone steals your car, and your car title is inside, then not only do they have your car but they now have it’s title too. A thief can then forge your signature and sign it over to themselves. Instead keep important documents like this in a safe lock box inside your house.
Lock Car Doors
Lock the car always. Even if your car is in your own garage, you should still lock the car doors before leaving it. Even if you are in your own familiar neighborhood, lock your car. Even if you are only going into the store for a second, lock your car. You never want to make a thief’s job easier by leaving your car unlocked and extra vulnerable.
Watch Your Keys
Keep a careful eye on your car keys. Losing your keys, or leaving them out where anyone can pick them up is a great way to lose your car forever. And you never want to lose your car all because you were careless. One way to help you never lose your keys is to use Tile essentials: devices that you can attach to your keychain so that you can track them using GPS if you ever misplace your keys. Another trick to help keep track of your keys is to use a lanyard of keychain that will make your keys bigger and thus harder to lose.
Use a Wheel Lock
Since a lot of stolen cars tend to be older, it can be useful to update your car’s security system yourself. You can also take advantage of old safety measures. Ever use a wheel lock before? It’s a device that literally locks your steering wheel. It can be a great tool to use as an extra precautionary measure when your car is older and therefore easier to steal. Thieves aren’t always ready to tackle things like wheel locks in a day of alarms and auto locks.
In 2012, the FBI estimates that about 724,000 cars were stolen. Assuming that each vehicle retained an amount of about $5,000 each, that equates to 3.6 billion in hard earned cash (some of which was still owed to the bank) that car owners lost when their cars got stolen. That’s quite the haul. Don’t become a victim of that statistic this year and keep these car safety tips in mind.