NICB Unveils Thieves’ Auto Wish List

December 11, 2002

Thieves target a wide range of popular passenger vehicles, with sport utility vehicles (SUVs), pickup trucks, and mini-vans particularly attractive targets, according to a new study conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

The NICB reported that one-third (17) of the top 50 most commonly stolen vehicles in 2001 were sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and mini-vans or vans.

The report from NICB follows the recent release of FBI Uniform Crime Reports which found that motor vehicle thefts in 2001 were up 5.7 percent over 2000.

NICB said that the 10 most commonly stolen vehicles in the United States in 2001 were:

1. Toyota Camry
2. Honda Accord
3. Honda Civic
4. Oldsmobile Cutlass/Supreme/Ciera
5. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
6. Chevrolet Full Size C/K Pickup
7. Toyota Corolla
8. Ford Taurus
9. Chevrolet Caprice
10. Ford F150 Pickup

The NICB list of the top 50 most frequently stolen vehicles includes 17 pickup trucks, minivans, vans and SUVs. They are: the Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee (5), Chevrolet Full Size C/K Pickup (6), Ford F150 Series Pickup (10), Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan (11), Ford Explorer (16), Chevrolet Full Size Extended Cab Pickup (22), Plymouth Voyager/Grand Voyager (23), Toyota Pickup (25), Ford Ranger (26), Chevrolet/GMC Suburban (29), Dodge Ram Pickup (30), Chevrolet Compact SUV (Blazer) (35), Ford Econoline Van (39), Chevrolet Truck (41), Chevrolet Blazer (43), GMC Full Size C/K Pickup (46) and the Chevrolet Van (49).

The FBI reported that an estimated 1.2 million vehicle thefts were reported in 2001. The nation’s vehicle theft rate per 100,000 people was up 4.5 percent in 2001, marking the second consecutive year of increases in the auto theft rate following a ten year decline.

“The continued increase in the auto theft rate is a troubling trend,” Robert Bryant, president and CEO, National Insurance Crime Bureau, said. He attributed the continuing rise to a variety of factors, including a difficult U.S. economy that spurs thieves to steal cars and trucks for financial gain, the reassignment of many law enforcement officers from special auto theft task forces and porous international borders that are difficult to monitor for stolen vehicles.

The average value of motor vehicles stolen in 2001 was $6,646, according to the FBI. The estimated total value of stolen motor vehicles was $8.2 billion. Approximately 62 percent of that amount was recovered. “Vehicle thieves follow market trends and target the most popular vehicles because they provide the best market for stolen vehicle parts and illegal export to other countries,” Bryant pointed out.

He also observed that there are city-by-city differences in consumer vehicle preference that affect which vehicles are targeted by thieves in an individual metropolitan area.

For example, American sedans are more attractive to thieves in Chicago, while pickups are more frequently stolen in Dallas. In the Los Angeles area, thieves prefer Japanese models.

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