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America’s most stolen car: 1994 Honda Accord

John Egan

The 1994 Honda Accord once again reigns as the most stolen car in the U.S., according to the nonprofit National Insurance Crime Bureau.

In the bureau’s 2010, 2011 and 2012 Hot Wheels reports, the 1994 Honda Accord held the No. 1 spot. Experts say thieves like the 1994 Honda Accord so much because its parts are valuable and because it lacks anti-theft technology that’s common in newer cars.

Here are the other cars on this year’s list, followed by the 2011 ranking (if available):

2.  1998 Honda Civic.

3.  2006 Ford Pickup (full size) (3).

4.  1991 Toyota Camry (3).

5.  2000 Dodge Caravan (7).

6.  1994 Acura Integra (8).

7.  1999 Chevrolet pickup (full size) (4).

8.  2004 Dodge pickup (full size) (6).

9.  2002 Ford Explorer (9).

10. 1994 Nissan Sentra.

Each year, the crime bureau reviews U.S. vehicle theft records to produce its list of the 10 most stolen vehicles. Hot Wheels is the only report that examines all theft data without taking into account whether a car was insured − if a vehicle was reported stolen to a law enforcement agency, it’s included in this report. The 2012 list is based on car thefts reported in 2011.

If your car is stolen, car insurance can help — but only if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage protects your car in case of damage unrelated to a crash.

Car theft trends

Preliminary 2011 statistics from the FBI indicate a 3.3 percent reduction from the 737,142 thefts reported in 2010. The U.S. level of car theft has not been this low since 1967, the crime bureau says.

“While overall thefts continue to decline, we are seeing a trend toward increases in the thefts of late-model vehicles − ones that are theoretically harder to steal due to sophisticated key code technology,” Joe Wehrle, president and CEO of the crime bureau, says in a news release.

Wehrle says the bureau is aware of nearly 300 thefts that happened in the first three months of 2012 in which replacement keys with illegally obtained key codes were used to steal the cars.

“Today’s vehicle thieves are typically professional criminals who have figured out how to get the key code for a specific vehicle, have a replacement key made and steal the vehicle within a matter of days,” Wehrle says.

The bureau says it’s working with insurance companies, law enforcement agencies and auto manufacturers to track these key code schemes and either stop the thefts or recover the stolen cars before they can be resold in the U.S. or shipped overseas.

Thwarting the thieves

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers these tips for preventing car theft:

  • Lock your car and take your keys. It’s simple enough, the bureau says, but many thefts occur because owners make it easy for thieves to steal their cars.
  • Install and use a visible or audible warning device.
  • Consider adding a “kill” switch, fuel cut-off or smart key — all of which can immobilize your car. “Generally speaking,” the bureau says, “if your vehicle can’t be started, it can’t be stolen.”
  • Look at putting in a tracking device. A tracking device sends a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when a car is stolen. “Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles,” the bureau says.

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