By on August 20, 2012

Car thefts are on the decline, reports The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in its annual review of trends in car heists. While vehicle thefts have not been this low since 1967, there is a disturbing new trend: Stolen key codes.

Leading the list of the most stolen vehicles of last year is the 1994 Honda Accord:

America’s Most Stolen Cars
Rank Vehicle Make/Model Year
1 Honda Accord 1994
2 Honda Civic 1998
3 Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
4 Toyota Camry 1991
5 Dodge Caravan 2000
6 Acura Integra 1994
7 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) 1999
8 Dodge Pickup (Full Size) 2004
9 Ford Explorer 2002
10 Nissan Sentra 1994

While the list makes believe that older cars are easier pickings, thefts of late model vehicles are trending up, despite them being harder to steal due to sophisticated key code technology.”

Says NICB CEO Joe Wehrle:

“Today’s vehicle thieves are typically professional criminals who have figured out how to get the key code for a specific vehicle, have a replacement key made, and steal the vehicle within a matter of days. We are aware of nearly 300 thefts that took place in the first three months of this year in which we believe replacement keys using illegally obtained key codes were used to steal the vehicle. “

Here is a list of the most stolen cars by state.

Most Stolen Cars By State
State Vehicle Year
Alabama Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1997
Alaska Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1990
Arizona Honda Accord 1994
Arkansas Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1994
California Honda Accord 1994
Colorado Honda Accord 1995
Connecticut Honda Accord 1997
Delaware Honda Civic 2000
District Of Columbia Dodge Caravan 1998
Florida Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
Georgia Honda Accord 1996
Hawaii Honda Accord 1993
Idaho Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
Illinois Dodge Caravan 2000
Indiana Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1994
Iowa Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1999
Kansas Honda Accord 1995
Kentucky Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1999
Louisiana Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
Maine Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1998
Maryland Dodge Caravan 2000
Massachusetts Honda Civic 1998
Michigan Dodge Caravan 2000
Minnesota Honda Accord 1996
Mississippi Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
Missouri Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
Montana Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1997
Nebraska Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1994
Nevada Honda Accord 1994
New Hampshire Honda Civic 2000
New Jersey Honda Accord 1994
New Mexico Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
New York Honda Civic 2000
North Carolina Honda Accord 1994
North Dakota Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 2002
Ohio Dodge Caravan 2000
Oklahoma Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1994
Oregon Honda Accord 1992
Pennsylvania Honda Accord 1997
Rhode Island Nissan Maxima 1997
South Carolina Honda Accord 1997
South Dakota Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 2000
Tennessee Chevrolet Pickup  (Full Size) 1996
Texas Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
Utah Honda Accord 1996
Vermont Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
Virginia Honda Accord 1994
Washington Honda Accord 1992
West Virginia Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2004
Wisconsin Dodge Caravan 2000
Wyoming Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2000
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65 Comments on “America’s Most Stolen Cars...”

  • avatar

    Japanese imports have expensive parts and expensive parts get snatched right off of cars in my city. Airbags, HID lights, side mirrors, etc.

    I got the driver’s mirror snatched off a 2002 Expedition TWICE.
    I figure it was someone stealing it to use on an F150 or a Navigator. Got the passenger mirror snatched off my S550 once – but that’s cause i was in Brooklyn at the time.

    When you say “most stolen” – do you mean the thieves stole the entire car or stole parts from it? Here: we have fewer stolen cars, but stolen parts are all too common.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting that nearly all the West Coast and Western states (minus NM) have different year Honda Accords as the most stolen. Is there a huge market for these in South America or is it just the parts?

      • 0 avatar

        1. Most 20-year-old Accords out west are still on the road (minimal tin-worm issues in the non-coastal areas), so there are a lot of them to be stolen (as opposed to, say, 1993 Aerostars).

        2. They are still very popular vehicles (inexpensive and reliable).

        3. They are very easy to steal, and sometimes are only driven until the gas tank is empty and then abandoned.

        My neighbor has a 1995 Accord and I have a 1997 Civic – we’ll have to watch where we park them, I guess . . .

  • avatar

    I see that in New Mexico and Texas the Ford F series tops the list – which makes sense.

    Regarding the getting the key code for a specific vehicle – doesn’t that leave a paper work or computer trail?

    • 0 avatar

      There will be some kind of trail … but as long as the thief is using false ID, it’ll be hard to track it down.

      • 0 avatar

        I remember reading once that the national solve rate for car theft is 0%. Which is to say, if they don’t catch you in the car, they aren’t going to catch you. They just don’t investigate it.

      • 0 avatar

        @toxicroach “I remember reading once that the national solve rate for car theft is 0%. Which is to say, if they don’t catch you in the car, they aren’t going to catch you. They just don’t investigate it.”

        It’s been that way for quite some time. Years ago, when I had a car stolen (Denver, CO area), the local police showed up, took a statement and essentially informed me that while they’d flag the plate and VIN as stolen about all I could do at that point was take it up with my insurance company.

    • 0 avatar

      All you need is a smartphone, laptop or other device that can simulate an RFID chip transponder. Any locksmith can get the codes based on a car’s VIN, but a typical computer hacker can make their device spoof (simulate) the signal from a key fob. There were hackers actually using signal repeaters to transmit a signal from a person’s key fob from inside a grocery store all the way out to the parking lot to open the car.

      Cars with mechanical keys can’t be started in this manner, but cars with start/stop buttons and keyless entry can be entered and driven away. If you can store the signal you can use it over and over.

      • 0 avatar

        “If you can store the signal you can use it over and over.”

        If that’s the case, then the car industry has a lot to learn from the people who made my garage door opener – they’ve been using rolling codes for decades. The computer industry has been using much better cryptography than that since before my voice changed.

        I havebt checked specifically into the ones the car industry, but RFIDs can use some.amount of real encryption. Spoofing one should be far more effort than the trivial replay attack that you proposed. Because any security system that could be spoofed that way has been considered to be catastrophically bad practice in the computer industry as long as I’ve been old enough to be familiar with the ideas (early 1990s), and it didn’t seem to be a new idea then.

        Yes, guessing the private key used by a RFID chip in a public key system would allow you to use the code many times, but that’s not something that you just play back. There’s a back-and-forth type of exchange that happens with these systems that can be used to validate the parties that actually works pretty well. I’d be shocked if automotive keys fobs are any less sophisticated than my garage door opener, and I’d be a little dissappointed (but not terribly surprised) if they’re not leveraging the cryptography lessons learned by over the last few decades.

        Btw, I’ll be happy to do a “four way handshake” party game in this forum that will demonstrate that will show how you can privately transmit information in public. All I need is someone who is willing to play ball and use a four-function calculator.

    • 0 avatar

      Several pickup trucks that were stolen in New Mexico and Texas were hauled off on a Flatbed truck OR flatbed trailer in broad daylight.

      One individual claimed that he witnessed his truck being hauled off by a guy with court-ordered repo documents which turned out to be bogus.

      Any dealer can ‘read’ the keycode from the key-fob and ‘write’ to a blank programmable key. I had an extra fob made for our 2012 Grand Cherokee. It was a breeze. I watched the lady do it. I took less than 30 seconds to read one fob and write to the new one.

      Who knows what the hell happened to the ‘read’ data. Maybe she made more copies……

      • 0 avatar

        the systems I’ve looked at a little (Prius, VW) don’t actually clone the key fob. They just instruct the car’s footlocker to trust a particular fob. Which is why you sometimes need to have all of your fobs with you when you make a change – because the command is something like “trust all of the key fobs that you hear from in the next 30 seconds, but no others”.

        If Chrysler’s system really does clone the fobs, then I ain’t owning one!

      • 0 avatar

        Luke42, I honestly don’t know how they do it at Chrysler but what I have done is walk by other late model Chrysler products in parking lots, etc and pushed my fob to unlock the doors. None but our own flashed its lights and it was far, far away, so there must be a code encrypted in the fob to ensure a unique recognition. The fob must transmit this code if we’re a long ways off, like in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

        The extra one we had made works fine and is actually used daily by my wife since we wanted to keep one original unused for reference. I rarely drive her car, so my fob stays on the hook as well.

      • 0 avatar

        Mazda you have to have both keys programmed at the same time for the PCM to “trust” it. If you need new keys cut or just want an extra spare you have to have two keys. The system will only allow two keys to be cut and programmed at the same time.

      • 0 avatar

        The VW system is probably the best in this regard. The instrument cluster, ecm, and keys have to be programmed to each other with permission given from their central server. You basically aren’t stealing one without the key or a flatbed. You can buy as many keys as you want, you still won’t be able to steal the car.

        The Mercedes system has an algorithm and besides the ones coming out on the 2013s (which will be similar to the VW setup) are programmed in Texas and sent preprogrammed.

        Many other makes can be programmed at the car and keys can be duplicated, like Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Leads? Just check with the boys down at the crime lab…

    • 0 avatar

      Former GM parts guy here. There is definitely an electronic record kept every time a key code is pulled. Our store being in a high crime area we required a title to a vehicle with a picture ID with the same name before we would run a key code. Also we would keep a photocopy of the title and ID on file periodically the police would come in and look at our records. Also most automakers transponder key systems have a workaround to program a key without a scan tool GMs which I will not detail requires 30 minutes.

  • avatar

    I don’t get all those stolen 1998 Civics. I mean, how many fart-can mufflers can one stand, let alone peeling, purple window tint and ill-fitting, partially-shattered, non-painted, nailed-on ground effects?

    • 0 avatar

      There was a 1989 Camry V6 sedan for sale in the local newspaper not too long ago. A friend of mine who owns one bought it for $1000 mostly for parts he wanted.

      Then he advertised that he was parting out the one he had bought, and was able to sell the engine, transmission, doors, trunklid, hood, lights and a few other parts to different people all across America.

      All he had left was the cage which he and I hauled off on one of my flatbed trailers to the metal recycling yard in town.

      That $1000 investment on his part returned over $6000 in cold hard cash in profits.

      That’s why so many cars get stolen. Why invest ANY money if you can steal America’s most popular cars and chop them up?

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      A lot of them are “steal and drive away until out of gas/rifle through the car, then abandon”, since by this point they can be practically started with a keyblank.

    • 0 avatar

      I should have asked this question: As there are none on the “most stolen” list, why do you insult me with a picture of an Impala, car that no one wants, except me and lots of other people?

      That hurts…I think…

      Sorry, I had to ask!

  • avatar

    Is there something in particular about 2006 Ford trucks that makes them easier to steal or more desirable to thieves than other model years?

    • 0 avatar

      Pre 2008 Super Duty pickups lacked chipped keys and 2007 was a short run. You’d think the article was referring to F-150s, but the newest I’ve seen on any recent list was the ’97 model.

      More stolen cars are older, but here’s a list of 5 year old or newer from an article more than a year old.

      1. 2007 Toyota Camry

      2. 2009 Toyota Camry

      3. 2006 Chevrolet Silverado

      4. 2007 Cadillac Escalade

      5. 2006 Ford F-250

      When combined, half ton GMs overwhelmingly top the any list of year 2000 and newer, including the Tahoe, Suburban and Sierra.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, this doesn’t even pass the smell test.

    The most-stolen car is 18 years old?!?

    I just did a search within 300 miles of Sarasota, which would be basically all of (rust-free) Florida. Out of 136,363 listings on AutoTrader, there are a total of 8 1994 Accords for sale. There simply aren’t enough of the vehicles listed on the road for them to come close to being “most-stolen”.

    C’mon guys, thimk.

    • 0 avatar

      “The most-stolen car is 18 years old?!?”

      Sure, the market for used parts for that car is the strongest.

      What do you think would be the car most stolen to be parted out?

    • 0 avatar

      I live in Jax Fl and cant believe that the F150 is stolen more here. But in NC my home state its the Accord..I thought the F150 would be stolen alot there.

      • 0 avatar

        Car thefts take place in predominately “urban” markets where Accords are very popular to chop and also to joyride in. Any state like NC with big inner cities will have much higher rates of car theft, and the Accord is popular with that crowd.

        One of our friends in Charlotte had a late ’90’s Accord; stolen twice for joyrides. She sold the (twice recovered) car and her replacement Fusion has been left alone even though it is parked in the same place.

    • 0 avatar

      Also, new cars can be a lot harder to steal.

      Seriously, just try to hot wire a Prius – good luck!

      Even I don’t even know where to start! My best guess is that it would take a replacement ECU and keyfob to hotwire. It isn’t going anywhere without the computer’s help.

    • 0 avatar

      Gannet, maybe 1994 Accords are so great, or they fit into a special owner demography that don’t want to sell them.

    • 0 avatar

      The key words are “for sale”. There were probably more Accords sold that year than any other model car. They were extremely reliable cars and people kept them then and still do.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Try Craigslist. I doubt many people selling a 1994 Honda Accord would pay for an Autotrader listing.

      Granted, some are duplicates, but 125 listings for ’94 Accords in the greater Seattle area. I’d guess that boils down to 50-60 unique cars in a 40 mile radius.

    • 0 avatar

      The list isn’t based on the number of cars that are stolen, it’s the rate that they are stolen at. The older cars show up because there are fewer on the road/insured, so when they get stolen they constitute a greater percentage of the remaining fleet. You steal one of those 8 accords, and you have a 13% theft rate…

      Shows that there must be a lot of GM products being stolen, because the 1/2 ton pickups were a high volume product and there are still a lot on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      So people are keeping their Hondas…

  • avatar

    Maryland – Dodge Caravan? Car thieves in this state have no taste at all.

    • 0 avatar

      I can see where an anonymous-looking box on wheels would be a useful accessory for other near-term criminal applications.

      Really, how many black-market elephant tusks can you fit in a Honda Accord?

      • 0 avatar

        Minivans are great accessories for crimes like Smash and Grabs. Stolen cars are used to breach the entry of a store, which is typically of the big box variety. Thieves take cars that are easy to steal, or have high top speeds. The booty is loaded into the minivans which take flight separately from the others. This is the primary reasons why stores like Models have concrete filled steel bollards in front of the main entrance. Ram those and you are going to the hospital, or the morgue. Amazing the amount of risk and damage that is undertaken just to steal a load of basketball shirts and sneakers. I think the bollards should be rigged with high explosives.

  • avatar

    Stolen and parted out, I’m not so sure about that. I own a 98 Civic, and although its the second most stolen vehicle, its probably also the second most common vehicle at the local Pick n Pull salvage yards. If cheap parts are the goal, there are tons of late 90s Civics at the salvage yard, no criminal activity needed. I thought i read somewhere that these late 90s cars were being stolen and shipped intact to other countries including mexico and that there was something magical about that age range. Makes more sense than the parts arguement

  • avatar

    How soon until a Hyundai makes the list?

    My beater silver 2001 Elantra has never been stolen, but it blends into the woodwork like nothing else because there are so many of them around.

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps when the ones that are worth fixing get old enough to need more parts. There are, I’m guessing, plenty of people who view the older ones as disposable and don’t bother fixing them.

      How is the Elantra? I’m coming up on 22k in the KIA with nary a serious issue.

  • avatar

    I get the distinct impression that many of these statistics are of very limited value due to small sample size. Let’s do the math here:

    A quick Google search reveals multiple references to annual auto thefts in the neighborhood of 800,000 annually. But this survey breaks out not only make and model but also year, so we need to divide that 800,000 by approximately two hundred different makes and models on sale every year since, for our purposes say 1987. 800k(units)/200(make/model combinations)/25(years)= 160 thefts of each make and model, average,nationwide. Some cars are stolen more than others – generally in order of bestsellers and survivorship. Note that in the salt belt, the average age of a stolen car is newer than in the PNW or desert states. And of course in smaller states, like Rhode Island or (population-wise) Wyoming, a car might have had a half-a-dozen hits to get the highest make/model/year combination. All told – I don’t think these numbers are that valuable.

  • avatar

    Without a custom ‘kill switch’ there are no guarantees, especially with older cars with alarms.

    Flatbed thefts may be on the rise because of the latest tech, but it’s not likely they’ll ever be widely used. Park with the wheels turned sharp if it makes you feel better. If you drive a full-size GM truck or SUV, never mind, your steering column doesn’t lock.

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t even need a flatbed.

      10 seconds….and they could care less which way your wheels are turned.

      • 0 avatar

        “10 seconds….and they could care less which way your wheels are turned.”

        Well yeah, but if you’re in a parking lot and put enough thought into turning your wheels sharp, you’re also parked facing a wall, a tree, a light stand, the sidewalk or just in a pack of other cars.

        Along the curb, a repo truck needs a fair amount of clearance in front of the subject. Clearance from the curb would be nice too. Of course a repo truck is equipped to drag it out to an open area or block the street, but how much time does he have and how much attention does he want to bring to himself.

        Of course you would set the parking brake if it’s FWD and RWDs are just a ‘drag’ for repos with the wheels cranked.

        Even outlaw towers aren’t likely to risk a GTA and their equipment when chop shops only pay underage gang bangers a couple hundred to do the deed. There’s just too much money to be made legitimately not counting repos.

        Getting caught towing a stolen is a GTA, but anyone caught driving one away is only ‘receiving stolen property’. They have to catch you in the act. Towing is the act.

  • avatar

    Criminals sure don’t aim high. Of course that is why their criminals in the first place… LOL

    • 0 avatar

      Theres no money in stealing exotics. Low demand for parts, and how the hell are you going to retitle + sell a Ferrari? Not to mention “desirable” cars are generally in well policed neighborhoods under lock and key, while a lowly 94 Sentra prob spends its days in a townhouse parking lot

      Car theft is a crime of opportunity, not passion, at least for the run of the mill low life car thief

      • 0 avatar

        Au contraire

        In any port City the hot exotic can be quickly put in a 20′ or 40′ overseas container and find its way to a far away locale where no one cares about title history.

        If I’m going to risk a GTA for .05-.10 on the $1 I’d rather go for a big score on a late model exotic that a 94 Integra. To paraphrase De Niro Character from “Heat” its the difference between taking down a score and knocking over a liquor store with born to loose on your chest.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think Gone in 60 Seconds was as realistic as you’ve been led to believe.

        Cars are often stolen for the purpose of committing other crimes.

  • avatar

    Recently, I’ve been looking into buying an 80s 442 or H/O, so I’ve been spending some time on the G-body forums.

    Holy cow, do those cars have theft issues. They even have a whole “Stolen!” subforum.

  • avatar

    My aunt had a 1991 Camry…from new until 2011. It was driven sparingly, and mostly sat in a covered (but not gated) parking area at her condo complex here in Houston – for 20 years, and luckily was never stolen. The factory wheel covers (average condition) were stolen when the car was 15 years old!

  • avatar

    I’m impressed that there are enough 1991 Camrys left out there to steal. I don’t think I’ve seen one that old in several years. The oldest ones on the road around here seem to be circa 1995 or later.

  • avatar

    I’ve done some reading on the imoobilizers and many of these cars were built prior to 2007 and may not have encrypted, rolling codes like later cars do.

    Even if you can get inside, you may not be able to start them, unless you have the proper key and just about every car with a later chipped key immobilizer requires you to have TWO keys/fobs in order to program any more, and only up to 6 fobs is usually the limit for most vehicles.

    The reason for 2 working keys, is you have to put one in the ignition, turn it, then do the same to the other, both long enough to activate the system, then you can program the new key.

    I forget now the procedure for keyless fobs, but they also require 2 fobs for programming if I recall right.

    Many cars didn’t even get immobilizers until at least 2004, the Mazda Protege 5 missed out as Mazda went to the immobilizer in 2004, beginning with the 3.

    However, there ARE work arounds, if a thief wants to go through the trouble, since for most, time is of the essence so whatever they do, it has to be done quickly, and undercover.

    It’s usually the more aggressive thieves that are parts of chop shops, or those looking to import cars to other countries via the gray market will most likely go the lengths, including impersonating a repo man, using a flatbed to get the car of choice illegally so nothing is foolproof, but with the immobilizer, it reduces your chances to some extent, nonetheless.

  • avatar

    This NCIB video is B.S. at least with regards to VW key codes.

    It is moronic to think you can “go to the dealer” and “request a Key Fob” for cars such as a 2004 Phaeton or a 2006 Touareg. Sure, you can get a blank and a chip.

    But good luck getting those puppies activated unless you already are inside the car, with the VAS 5051 computer hooked on and with access to the Kessy controller open and simultaneously online with VW home office.

  • avatar

    Worked for several years in a dealer with a customer base from high crime areas of Detroit. The most common ways I saw late model transponder key equipped vehicles stolen were:
    a. Tow truck usually the tow truck was also stolen
    b. on full size SUVs they would either break the shifter or disconnect it at the trans and use a push car to get the truck to a safe location
    c. For vehicles with very expensive rims, electronics, etc a team of 3-4 guys in a (usually stolen) minivan would force that car to stop 2 guys with AK-47s would hop out and force the driver out and take the car.

  • avatar

    I wish they would go by actual total numbers instead of percentage of fleet. “Most stolen cars” does not equal “most cars stolen”. That’s the number I really want to see.

  • avatar

    I’m not suprised my home state of Kentucky has a problem keeping full size Chevy trucks from being stolen. You can’t get all those Oxycontin and Vicodin in a trunk of a Camry.

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