Thinking Tech

The most stolen cars in America

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A report finds that the favorite targets of car thieves tend to be models from the 90's or early 2000's. Find out if your car is on the list and whether there are ways to protect your ride.

Thinking of buying a car? Now here's one more reason why you're better off opting for a newer model that comes with the latest, most innovative technologies.

A tally of vehicles reported stolen in 2011 showed that thieves most often targeted older versions such as the 94' Honda Accord and 98' Honda Civic, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In fact, nine out of the 10 most burglarized rides last year were models from the 90's or early 2000's.

The reason for this, of course, is obvious. Most these older models weren't equipped with some of the more sophisticated anti-theft security systems found in newer cars, such as key code technology and immobilizer systems that prevent the car from running without the proper key. However, the bureau has also been seeing a worrisome uptick in thefts of some newer models as well.

“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," said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. "We are aware of nearly 300 thefts that took place in the first three months of this year in which we believe replacement keys using illegally obtained key codes were used to steal the vehicle."

To combat the increasingly sophisticated methods used by crooks, the NICB recommends a layered approach” to auto theft prevention.

This includes:

Common Sense: Lock your car and take your keys. It’s simple enough, but many thefts occur because owners make it easy for thieves to steal their cars.

Warning Device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another item that can ensure that your car remains where you left it.

Immobilizing Device: Generally speaking, if your vehicle can’t be started, it can’t be stolen. “Kill” switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys are among the devices that are extremely effective.

Tracking Device: A tracking device emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics,” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.

The NICB's list of the "Top 10 most stolen cars of 2011" was compiled using vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Here's the complete list:

1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1998 Honda Civic
3. 2006 Ford Pickup (Full Size)
4. 1991 Toyota Camry
5. 2000 Dodge Caravan
6. 1994 Acura Integra
7. 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
8. 2004 Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
9. 2002 Ford Explorer
10. 1994 Nissan Sentra

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure