Do You Drive One of the 10 Most Stolen Cars in California?

Feast your eyes on the hottest car in California, Speed Racer: the 1991 Honda Accord.
Feast your eyes on the hottest car in California, Speed Racer: the 1991 Honda Accord.

Forget your Ferrarris, Lamborghinis, heck, even your grandparents' Buicks. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) Hot Wheels 2009 report, which crunched data reported to the National Crime Information Center to determine the vehicle make, model, and model year most reported stolen in 2008, the hottest wheels in the nation are:

1) 1994 Honda Accord
2) 1995 Honda Civic
3) 1989 Toyota Camry
4) 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup         
5) 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup           
6) 2000 Dodge Caravan                
7) 1996 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee            
8) 1994 Acura Integra                
9) 1999 Ford Taurus                
10) 2002 Ford Explorer 

Some of those same makes, models and years made the report's breakdown of the most stolen vehicles in California. (The full report is here.) But, the most stolen car in the Golden State in '08 did not make the nation's top 10. As indicated in the photo above, it's the 1991 Honda Accord. Of course, that was before Cash for Clunkers. The clunkers the '91 Accord beat out follow after the jump . . .  


The Avis of stolen cars in Cali, the 1995 Honda Civic.
The Avis of stolen cars in Cali, the 1995 Honda Civic.

Coming in at No. 2 is another Honda product, the 1995 Honda Civic. The nonprofit NICB reports that certain models of older cars and trucks are popular with thieves because of the value of their parts. Frequently, the parts can be stripped from a car at a chop shop and sold for at least twice as much as the value of the vehicle on the used car market.

Rounding out the top three hot wheels on the Left Coast is the 1989 Toyota Camry.
Rounding out the top three hot wheels on the Left Coast is the 1989 Toyota Camry.

Toyota is not on the No. 1 car maker in America, the Japanese auto giant has the most models represented in the list of the 10 most stolen vehicles in California. Its first entry, coming in at No. 3, is the 1989 Toyota Camry. Des Plaines, Ill.-based NICB provides law enforcement with local resources for identifying and recovering stolen vehicles as well as training and information analysis in the detection and prevention of vehicle theft and insurance crime.

The fourth hottest car in California is the 1994 Acura Integra. Actually, all indications are vehicle theft is declining. The preliminary 2008 FBI Uniform Crime Report indicates vehicle theft is on pace to record a decrease of 13.1 percent from 2007 numbers. If that holds true when the final tallies come in, 2008 would be the fifth consecutive year of declining vehicle thefts. Further, it is projected that fewer than a million vehicles were stolen in '08, the lowest annual total in more than 20 years. "This is great news for vehicle owners, law enforcement and the insurance industry," says Joe Wehrle, NICB's president and chief executive officer.  

I think I had a 1994 Nissan Sentra. Or was it a '91? Whatever, the one above was the fifth most stolen car in California for 2008. While it's welcome news that vehicle thefts are apparently down, any rip-off represents a costly drain on our economy and a tremendous pain in the ass for the victim. The NICB suggests simple, low-cost strategies to make one's vehicle less attractive to thieves.
 

The only car from the 2000s to make the list of the top 10 stolen cars in California is the 2007 Toyota Corolla, which rolls into the sixth spot. The NCIB says newer models are more difficult (but not impossible) to steal because of anti-theft technology, thus their relative lack of representation on the most-lifted lists.

Bet you truck owners thought you were going to skate this year. Coming in at No. 7 among California's hottest wheels is the 1988 Toyota Pickup--not the trendier, spendier, muddier 4x4 but the 4x2. But back to those simple things you can do to prevent your car from winding up in a Tijuana chop shop. At the top of the heap is applying good, old-fashioned common sense. You know: lock your car. Take your keys out of the ignition. Actually, take the keys out first, then lock the car. The NCIB says many thefts would have been prevented if the owners just did those two things.

I think my son drives a 1997 Ford F-150. Or is it a Ranger? Whatever, the one above was the eighth most stolen ride in California for 2008. Want to keep yours, sonny boy? The NCIB suggests investing in visible or audible warning devices. Another option is an immobilizing device that won't start the engine, unless you're the one starting it. More commonly knows as "kill" switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys, they are "extremely effective," reports the NCIB.

It appears the Saturn brand is going away thanks to the deal Penske had to take Saturn off GM's hands falling through. So, one supposes the first collector's car to make Cali's hot list is the 1995 Saturn SL1 at No. 9. To take extra care in ensuring it will always be where you left it, the NCIB suggests using a tracking device that emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when a vehicle is stolen. Some systems employ "telematics" which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow even the owner to monitor his or her vehicle on a computer screen.

Rounding out the list of the most stolen cars in California is the 1997 Nissan Altima. The NCIB says you can help keep these and other models off future lists by reporting suspected insurance fraud and vehicle theft to NICB at (800) 835-6422 or by texting to TIP411 keyword "Fraud." You may also report fraud and theft by visiting their website. All tips can be anonymous.


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