Crime, in general, has taken a sharp drop in recent years, and one reason has been a crackdown on car theft. While there are a few hot spots left in the country – most of them in California, according to federal data – that crackdown has been paying off.
It’s not just tougher penalties and sting operations aimed at so-called “chop shops” that trade in stolen vehicles. Police across the country are getting a high-tech helping hand from advanced systems that can track and, in some cases, disable a stolen car making it easy for police to arrest thieves and recover the vehicle.
A new study by LoJack, the largest of the Stolen Vehicle Recovery System, or SVRS, vendors, reveals which vehicles are both the most stolen and the most often recovered. Some familiar names pop up, including three from Japanese maker Honda. In fact, its Accord model topped the LoJack list for the fifth year in a row.
“The latest statistics from the FBI indicate that nearly half of vehicles stolen are not returned to the rightful owners, resulting in millions of dollars in assets lost by vehicle owners,” says Patrick Clancy, the Vice President of Law Enforcement for LoJack Corporation. And often, when vehicles are returned, they suffer extensive damage ranging from broken windows to the loss of everything from radios to engines.
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Newer vehicles are increasingly being offered with more advanced safety systems, whether more effective locks or ignition disabling systems that cannot easily be jumped by a thief looking to make a quick getaway.
As a result, some of the most stolen vehicles are often older models. The Acura Integra, sixth on the LoJack list, was last sold in the U.S. market way back in 2001. In fact, older models often become targeted because thieves find a ready market for used parts.
The Integra was produced by Honda’s upscale brand Acura. But the Japanese maker’s Civic model was second on the stolen and recovered list. Toyota’s Camry ranked third, followed by the maker’s smaller Corolla. General Motors had three on the list: the fifth-ranked Chevrolet Silverado, the Cadillac Escalade, in seventh, and the 10th-ranked Chevy Tahoe. Ford’s heavy-duty version of its F-Series pickup, the F-350, ranked eighth, with the Nissan Altima in ninth.
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But among brand new models stolen and recovered in 2013, the Accord continued to lead the list, here followed by the Toyota Corolla, the Ford F-250 and the Honda Civic, with the 2014 Toyota Tacoma and Ford F-150 pickups tied for fifth.
SVRS systems are becoming increasingly common and, in some cases, are being offered by manufacturers as part of their latest infotainment systems. GM buyers can order OnStar services that go as far as allowing an agent to remotely disable the vehicle’s ignition system, stranding a thief while leading police to the car.
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LoJack claims to have invented the first Stolen Vehicle Recovery System 25 years ago, and to have since recovered about $4 billion in motor vehicles. According to Clancy, that includes over 90% of the vehicles using the system that were stolen in 2013.
In its fifth annual report, LoJack also revealed the 10 states with the highest vehicle theft and recovery rates:
4. New York
5. New Jersey
LoJack reports the oldest vehicle it helped recover last year was a 1963 Cadillac Convertible, while the most expensive was a 2011 Porsche Panamera valued at $103,400.