Car thefts have hit high gear. The FBI released a crime report in January showing that car theft rose 1 percent in the first half of 2015, with a vehicle reported stolen every 45 seconds.
Some models of cars are more popular than others, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual “Hot Wheels” report for 2014 (2015 statistics will be released this summer).
Here's a look at the most stolen cars:
No. 1 most stolen car: Honda Accord
No. 2 most stolen car: Honda Civic
No. 3 most stolen car: Ford Pickup (full size)
No. 4 most stolen car: Chevrolet Pickup (full size)
No. 5 most stolen car: Toyota Camry
Rounding out the top 10:
- No. 6: Dodge Pickup (Full size)
- No. 7: Dodge Caravan
- No. 8: Nissan Sentra
- No. 9: Acura Integra
- No. 10: Nissan Maxima
Among luxury cars, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the top choice among thieves, the NICB says.
Mike Bender, a former special agent for the NICB and one of the country’s foremost authorities on auto theft, says top-selling older cars, including many models from the 1990’s, are stolen more frequently than brand-new cars, with the parts being harvested for sale.
“It’s more of a challenge to steal a newer vehicles that is equipped with anti-theft technology,” says Bender. “While no vehicle is truly theft proof, there are steps consumers can take to keep their safeguard their autos.”
Here are five of them:
1. Consider anti-theft devices
The Insurance Information Institute notes that devices such as LoJack boast a better than 90 percent recovery rate. Lojack uses a hidden transmitter to allow police to track the vehicle in the event that it’s stolen. The institute says some insurers offer their policyholders a LoJack tracking system at a discounted price along with premium discounts.
“Even The Club, a steel device that attaches to the steering wheel and the brake pedal, can help to deter car theft,” says Frank Scafidi, director of public affairs for the NICB. “If a thief sees your car is protected, chances are they’ll move on to an easier target.”
2. Install a kill switch or alarm
Bender says installing an after market kill switch is one of the cheapest and most effective means of protecting your car. A vehicle kill switch cuts off the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine, and a mechanic can easily install these switches for a nominal cost. Scafidi says that even auto alarms can deter thieves who want to avoid attention.
3. Insure your car properly
While Janet Ruiz, a California representative for the Insurance Information Institute recommends never leaving valuables in your car, she says adding tint to your car’s windows can help prevent thieves from seeing what type of stereo and other items you have in your car.
“Having comprehensive coverage will protect your car in the event it’s stolen,” Ruiz says. “It won’t, however, cover aftermarket and performance parts.”
If you have a custom paint job, aluminum wheels and wheel covers, special tires or upgrades to your car stereo system, talk to your insurance agent about getting a Custom Parts and Equipment endorsement to your policy that will cover devices, accessories and enhancements and changes other than those installed by the original manufacturer.
4. Protect your wheels
It’s not just cars that are stolen. Car parts, specifically wheel thefts, are also on the rise. Make it harder for thieves to steal wheels by parking at a sharp angle so that wheels are harder to access. Devices such as a wheel lock that require a special key, can also deter thieves. An invention released in 2014 called Combo Wheels also offers protection against both wheel and tire theft.
5. Be vigilant and car smart
Many cars are stolen because owners are careless or too trusting. About 50 percent of cars that are stolen are left unlocked.
“Auto thefts are crimes of opportunity, so car owners need to think about how they can thwart car thefts,” Bender says. “The more barriers you create, the harder it will be to steal your car.”
If you do install an alarm system, Bender cautions against advertising the name of the alarm company on your window or dashboard.
“There have been cases where criminals have worked in alarm installation and know how to disable the alarm,” he says. “It’s OK to have a sticker noting that your car is protected by an alarm, but don’t list the name of the alarm company.”