Toyota Camry Makes It Five Years in a Row As Most Stolen Vehicle

March 19, 2002

The Toyota Camry has made it five-for-five, ranking in 2001 as tops on the target list of auto thieves, according to a report from CCC Information Services Inc. It was the 1991 model Camry that captured the No. 1 slot among stolen vehicles from the 1989 model, which had held the dubious distinction for the previous four years. Total vehicle thefts continued to drop, falling 2.7 percent last year.

CCC, a technology provider to the automotive-claims and collision-repair industry, identifies the most-stolen vehicles each year by studying total losses submitted to it by more than 350 property and casualty insurers in North America. In 2001, CCC valued an average of more than 7,000 vehicles a day. It bases its report on total-loss vehicles stolen and never recovered or completely totaled by the theft.

In 2001, according to the latest information:

Vehicle theft, which accounts for about 5 percent of all total losses, dropped 2.7 percent in 2001 from 2000.

Toyota and Honda models made up 16 of the top 20 most-stolen vehicles, with the only domestic entry in the top 10 being the 1994 Chevrolet C1500 4X2 truck, at No.5.

Only five domestic vehicles made the top 25 list, including two more Chevrolet trucks, the 1997 Ford F150 4X2 truck, and the 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4. But Chevrolet continues to lead as the most-stolen make regardless of model, comprising more than 14 percent of total theft volume.

Truck and sport utility vehicles continue to gain the attention of thieves, reflecting their continued growth in popularity, as 2001 marked a 7 percent increase in thefts since 1997.

Thefts of full-sized models and “muscle cars,” like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, continue to slide.

Michigan holds the highest theft rate in the contiguous states, but domestic cars are favorite targets there, not imports.

Toyotas and Hondas lead the most-stolen list partly due to their popularity with consumers. But these cars are popular with thieves also because they tend to have interchangeable parts amongst their model years, creating a profitable market for replacement parts.

In the top 25 most stolen cars, a clustering of Toyota and Honda model-years highlights the interchangeable nature and popularity for their parts. The 1987-1991 Camry models and six Accords from model years 1990-1997 all are represented in the top 25. This cluster notes that a bumper, for example, from a 1987 Camry is likely to fit the 1987-1991 Camry models.

Showing the continued growth in popularity of trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs), thefts of these models in the top 100 has jumped seven percent since 1997. In 2001, trucks accounted for nearly half of all vehicle sales, compared with just 15 percent of the U.S. market in 1971. SUVs have seen even more rapid growth—to 31 brands offering 56 nameplates in 2001 from 24 brands and 45 nameplates the previous year and just 28 SUV brands in 1995.

The growth in both trucks and SUVs may also be seen in theft rates. In 1997, only one truck was located in the top 25; in 2001 there are four. Since 1997, the percentage of trucks and SUVs in the top 100 total-theft volume has grown to 32.6 percent from 25.7 percent.

The full-sized model with the largest drop in theft regardless of model year is the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, falling to number 45 from its peak at No. 6 just four years earlier. In 2001 at the state level:

In California, which has the highest theft volume in the country, thieves generally prefer imports—a trend that continued in 2001. Like the nation, California’s most stolen vehicle was the 1991 Toyota Camry. Only two domestic cars appeared in the state’s top 25 list—the 1994 Chevrolet C1500 4×2 and the 1993 Saturn SL.

New York car thieves also have a knack for imports, specifically mid-sized Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans and Mitsubishis. In 2001, the 1994 Honda Accord EX was the favorite of Empire State thieves. A domestic car does not appear on the state’s most stolen vehicles list until No. 35 with the 1995 Chevy Blazer 4×4.

Mirroring consumer choice in Texas, pickup trucks loaded up the state’s most-stolen vehicles, capturing the first 11 slots and 20 of the top 25. The most stolen vehicle was the 1994 Chevrolet C1500 4×2.

When compared to the state’s total claim volume, Michigan holds the highest theft rate in the contiguous states. Since foreign demand for U.S.-made cars is often met by shipping stolen cars across international borders for resale, the Great Lakes surrounding Michigan may allow stolen vehicles to be exported easily into Canada. The most stolen vehicles in Michigan are domestic cars, with an import vehicle not making the list of most stolen vehicles until No. 63.

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