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Voting for The Truth About Cars’ Ten Worst Automobiles Today (TWAT) awards has now closed. We will reveal the ten winners/losers next week, once our writers have penned their pithy pillories and our new PR flack has been prepared. Meanwhile, our esteemed (though not necessarily by us) colleagues have begun their annual love-ins. Motor Trend has named the Mercedes GL450 their SUV of the Year– testing the controversial theory that the most expensive vehicle is also the best. Edmunds has unveiled their “most wanted” list, with no fewer than 32 winners (TTAC snipers note: only two domestic gongs). Thankfully, the awards season isn’t all ad-scented fluff. For example, here’s the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) 2005 list of America’s most stolen vehicles:
1. 1991 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1989 Toyota Camry
4. 1994 Dodge Caravan
5. 1994 Nissan Sentra
6. 1997 Ford F150 Series
7. 1990 Acura Integra
8. 1986 Toyota Pickup
9. 1993 Saturn SL
10. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
The NICB's list was compiled using FBI data on 1,235,226 stolen vehicles. Last year, the Bureau’s number crunchers estimated the average value of a heisted car was $6,173. (I guess you gotta steal a whole lot of Saturn SL’s to make up for a stolen Ferrari.) The bottom line: over $7.6b in insurance claims your insurance company would rather not pay, thank you very much, and God knows how much in “extra” premiums you’ve got to fork over whether you like it or not (at least that’s Allstate’s stand).
The survey raises some important extra-financial questions. Who would steal a 1994 Dodge Caravan? An eight member team of bank robbers? Why is General Motors, once again, so poorly represented on a list, any list? In fact, the vehicles on the NICB’s most stolen vehicles list aren't all that surprising. The majority of car thefts are crimes of opportunity. These are the alarmless cars most likely to be parked at the mall or along the street or, in the case of the Saturn, stolen because the owner paid someone to do it.
These most stolen stats are extremely misleading for paranoid car shoppers. After all, there are a LOT of Accords, Civic and Camrys on American roads. If theft-aversive consumers seek the least lifted automobiles, they need to know which cars are most likely to be stolen as a percentage of the total number of those models still in service. For that reallycooldatainfo, we turn to R.L. Polk & Co., home of intelligenceinsightimpact™.
1. 2001 BMW M Roadster
2. 1998 Acura Integra
3. 2004 Mercury Marauder
4. 1999 Acura Integra
5. 1995 Acura Integra
6. 2002 Audi S4
7. 1996 Acura Integra
8. 1997 Acura Integra
9. 2001 Acura Integra
10. 2000 Jaguar XJR
M Roadster? Audi S4? Jaguar XJR? I guess when a fast car gets stolen, it stays stolen. And man, are those thieves clever! Stealing a car that looks like a cop car (Mercury Marauder) is nothing less than criminal genius (at least in Rhode Island). Actually, it’s not quite that simple/interesting. This is a list of the top ten stolen vehicles, as a percentage of the total number of those models sold, that aren’t recovered.
The feds report that 62.1% of all stolen vehicles– some 450k automobiles– are never seen again by their owners. Well, not by Americans. As much trouble as the United States has keeping illegal immigrants out, we have difficulty keeping stolen cars in. Exporting hot wheels (1:1 scale) is una cosa muy grande. In ’05, the NICB’s multi-lingual sleuths claim to have repatriated some 3k vehicles from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and (get this) Lithuania. Obviously, that’s a drop in the container cargo vessel stuffed with stolen cars filled ocean.
The insurance industry mouthpiece says a much larger number of stolen vehicles are “give ups;” the PC term for cars dumped illegally by cheats and deadbeats. The rest end-up in chop shops, helping to reduce the rapacious prices charged by original equipment manufacturers and increasing the profits of auto body shops at the expense of the insurance companies who pass that cost along to you, the guy who pays insurance and [probably] doesn’t know that his damaged vehicle has been fitted with stolen car parts so the autobody shop owner can afford a nice summer house by the lake, and a new bass boat.
The NICB has a solution to all this, similar to the one used by Antarctic explorers: layering. That’s a fancy way of saying don’t leave your keys in the car and buy as much protection as you can: alarms, immobilizers, tracking devices and some guy named Bruno. Strange that the NICB go to all the trouble of naming names and then forget to say it might be a good idea to avoid buying one of these thief magnets. Never mind. The truth is that car theft is a huge and hugely profitable business that endangers our lives (with crap parts). All you can do is all you can do. If “they” want your 1999 Acura Integra, they’re gonna get it.
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