The most expensive and exotic models are not necessarily the most coveted among car thieves
Is your car popular for the wrong reasons? It could be if it's a Dodge Charger, which tops the list of most-frequently stolen new cars, according to data compiled during 2010 (the most recent information available) by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington, D.C.
The most-stolen cars each year in terms of sheer volume still tend to be older mainstream models that are typically dismantled and sold off for parts by unscrupulous vendors. However, some brand new cars also prove to be popular for thieves, who sell them intact with phony identification numbers and sometimes laundered titles. Often, they're shipped to foreign countries for resale.
Fortunately, NHTSA says increased use of parts marking, anti-theft devices and technology like coded keys, along with heightened public awareness and improved law enforcement, have helped reduce auto thefts steadily since 2001. Vehicle thefts are now at their lowest rate since 1967. Still, that amounts to nearly 380,000 vehicles stolen annually, with $4.5 billion in losses.
Ironically, your ride might actually be less of a target if your tastes and budget run large, as NHTSA's data shows thieves have become more practical in their vehicular tastes.
The list of most-stolen new cars for the previous year (based on the number of thefts reported per 1,000 vehicles) included luxury models and sports cars like the Audi S8, Ford Mustang GT, BMW M5, Honda S2000 and the Mercedes-Benz CL.
Meanwhile, the 2010 calendar-year rogues' gallery is composed mainly of more-affordable autos like the Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Kia Rio and Mitsubishi Galant. NHTSA's list is based on vehicle theft data compiled from approximately 23,000 criminal justice agencies and other law enforcement authorities throughout the U.S.
It could be that affordable new cars were easier to fence during 2010 than costly exotics and luxury models, given the sour state of the economy. Many of the costliest new models enjoyed zero thefts. These include highly desirable,well-secured rides like the Bentley Azure and Brooklands, Bugatti Veyron, BMW M3, M5 and M6, Dodge Viper, Porsche Boxster or Cayman, the entire Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce lineups.
Of course, whether one drives a lavish luxury car or the most humble subcompact, nobody wants to be a victim of car theft. So what can you do to ensure that crooks won't drive off with your vehicular pride and joy? NHTSA advises motorists to correct bad habits and follow some common-sense cautions.
For starters, always lock your vehicle when unattended. Don't leave your vehicle running, even if you will only be gone for a minute. Close all the windows, store valuables in the trunk or otherwise out of sight and take the keys with you; never hide a second set of keys in your vehicle. Do not leave the registration or title in your vehicle.
Park in well-lit areas, and if you park in an area with a valet or attendant, leave only the ignition and door key (valet key). Garage your vehicle if you have one and always remember to lock the garage door. If your vehicle is rear-wheel drive, back into your driveway or garage, which will make it more difficult to tow away.
Etch your vehicle identification number on car windows and major parts. This makes vehicles and parts more easily traceable when stolen. Drop business cards, address labels or other documentation inside a vehicle's doors for identification purposes. Lastly, install an antitheft device or alarm system on your vehicle as an extra deterrent measure.
(c) CTW Features
Most Stolen New Cars
Here's a list of the 10 most frequently stolen new cars, based on the number of thefts per 1,000 units built during the 2010 calendar year, as compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
1. Dodge Charger; 6.04.
2. Pontiac G6; 4.34.
3. Chevrolet Impala; 3.85.
4. Chrysler 300; 3.54.
5. Infiniti FX35; 3.20.
6. Mitsubishi Galant; 3.15.
7. Chrysler Sebring/200; 3.02.
8. Lexus SC; 2.98.
9. Dodge Avenger; 2.91.
10. Kia Rio; 2.90.
(c) CTW Features