By on November 26, 2019

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual Hot Wheels report this month. The good news is that auto thefts declined in 2018, according to the FBI.

The bad news? NICB is still doing a running tally of all the rides ripped away from their owners, putting the 2000 model-year Honda Civic on top. It was followed closely by the 1997 Honda Accord. Fortunately, the NICB also kept track of the 2018 model year specifically, proving that the nation’s most-stolen automobiles continue to be the ones that sell the best.

With overall thefts dropping by 3 percent in 2018, resuming the downward trend we’ve become accustomed to, those old Hondas could retain their title for years until society finally breaks down. In fact, their inclusion helps to illustrate just how little car crime there is now vs 20 years ago. Both the vintage Accord and Civic models peaked with over 5,000 reported thefts for a single model year. For MY2018, the leader was “GMC Pickup (Full Size)” — a category that includes every Sierra variant General Motors manufactures. But only 1,170 units were swiped last year.

As car thefts are typically crimes of opportunity, the rest of the 2018 list is about what you’d expect. These are all popular models you wouldn’t be surprised to see parked outside of a garage:

GMC Pickup (Full Size) — 1,170 Stolen
Ford Pickup (Full Size) — 1,017 Stolen
Toyota Camry — 976 Stolen
Nissan Altima — 912 Stolen
Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) — 790 Stolen
Hyundai Elantra — 775 Stolen
Ford Transit — 723 Stolen
Dodge Charger — 719 Stolen
Toyota Corolla — 699 Stolen
Chevrolet Malibu — 698 Stolen

There’s plenty of overlap with the Highway Loss Data Institute’s more-focused list of stolen vehicles from earlier this year, with a few notable differences. There aren’t any models from premium brands in the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s tally, and the list also includes the Ford Transit, a model we highly recommend for thieves. It’s great for fast loading, whether you’re wrapping up a home invasion or pulling an all-nighter at a warehouse you’ve broken into. Yet also makes a decent work vehicle, if you ever decide to go straight.

The NICB makes some generic recommendations on how to keep your vehicle safer that are mostly worth heeding. As with home defense, it suggests “layers of protection.” You basically want to make your car as unappetizing to thieves as possible while continuing to add minor annoyances. If nabbing your ride takes longer or makes more noise than the vehicle next to you, odds are good it’ll be the one taken by lawbreakers.

VIN etching and immobilizers probably aren’t something everyone needs, especially if parking in a well lit area with the doors locked keeps the car from being stolen in the first place. But they’re on the NICB’s list of safety recommendations, if you’re interested, and worth consideration if you’re concerned with the security of your particular parking locale.

[Image: General Motors]

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22 Comments on “NICB Says Auto Theft Down for 2018, Lists Most-stolen Models...”

  • avatar

    748,841 vehicles stolen in the U.S. in 2018. This is why we can’t have nice things.

    [My family – purposefully or inadvertently – has a ‘strategy’ of not driving very relatively-desirable vehicles – grin.]

  • avatar

    My car has a great anti-theft device – a manual transmission!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The 2000 Civic and 1997 Accords are stolen for parts and that is probably the case with the other cars listed. The parts are worth more the the cars. Yes a manual transmission is the most effective anti-theft device.

  • avatar

    Here in Texas, a lot of car and trucks get stolen, stripped, and the parts boxed and shipped to our honest neighbors south of the border.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Some of those stolen cars and trucks also get driven over the border especially trucks.

  • avatar
    Mc Lean

    What am I missing here? Chevrolet sells multiples of vehicles compared with GMC, yet far more GMCs are stolen?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    GMC is considered a more premium truck.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    IIRC, my dad had his 68 Galaxie 500 stolen ~1972, and his 74 Maverick was stolen ~1978. The Galaxie lost it steel wheels, and the Maverick lost its AM/FM radio. How times have changed.

    A friend had his new 86 Grand National stolen for its cool wheels, and when they found it the wrecker did more damage to the car by dragging it across the pavement onto the flatbed, than the wheels were worth.

    Today, I generally leave my car unlocked so they can take whatever worthless stuff I have inside, without me having to pay the deductible for a new window. Not the same thing as taking the whole car, but I have a fatalistic view of car theft – that’s what insurance is for.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m aware of more than one case where thieves haven’t even checked that the car was locked before breaking a window. They’re in a hurry, usually not very bright, and often on substances.

  • avatar

    Thankful that my old Legend is now getting so old that the demand for parts is less. For a while Hondas of its vintage were almost guaranteed to be stolen eventually. It spends most of its time in a garage, but does end up at a park-and-ride all day once in a while.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My old car used to lock itself after a few seconds which was a great feature – you had to turn the feature on so if you didn’t want it to, it wouldn’t. My new car doesn’t have the option and at least once I forgot to lock it in the street in front of my house because I got so accustomed to not having to think about it. I realized the next morning that it wasn’t locked and then noticed my prescription sunglasses were gone.
    I can’t even be mad at the thief, if I had managed to remember to lock the car no one would have gotten in.
    I now have the car’s app turned on all the time because it reminds me the doors are unlocked, which is kind of annoying when I am washing it or working on it, but I just can’t be trusted to remember.

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