NHTSA Report: Car Thefts Declined in 2009
A recently published report says that there was a 21.3% decrease in vehicle thefts from 2008 to 2009. It also provides information about which cars were the most likely to be stolen in 2009 — the most recent year for which statistics are available. The research was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is required by statute to do this study periodically.
NHTSA analyzed data based on information from the National Crime Information Center of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The researchers obtained the theft rate for 2009 by dividing the number of reported thefts of model year vehicles in a certain product line stolen in 2009 by the total number of vehicles in that line manufactured for 2009.
According to the NHTSA report in the October 24, 2011, Federal Register:
The final theft rate for MY 2009 passenger vehicles stolen in calendar year 2009 decreased to 1.33 thefts per thousand vehicles produced, a decrease of 21.3 percent from the rate of 1.69 thefts per thousand vehicles experienced by MY 2008 vehicles in CY 2008. […]
NHTSA’s data show that the MY 2009 theft rate reduction is consistent with the general decreasing trend of theft rates over the past 16 years… […]
The agency believes that the theft rate reduction could be the result of several factors including the increased use of standard antitheft devices (i.e., immobilizers), vehicle parts marking, increased and improved prosecution efforts by law enforcement organizations and increased public awareness measures.
As Jim Gorzelany writes on Forbes.com, based on the report, the car most often stolen during 2009 was the $92,000 Audi S8 sport luxury sedan, with 8.81 thefts per 1,000 vehicles produced. He writes: “That comes out to just two out of the 227 S8s that were sold in the U.S., so it’s hardly a widespread epidemic.”
The next car with the highest percentage of thefts in 2009 relative to how many were produced was the Ford Shelby Mustang GT, with 8.61 vehicles stolen per 1,000. Also ranking in the top five cars to be stolen in 2009 were the M5 BMW, the Dodge Charger and the Honda S2000 roadster, which is no longer produced. Next on the list, in order of how likely they were to be stolen in 2009, are the Mitsubishi Galant, the Chrysler 300 sedan, the Infiniti M luxury sedan, the Cadillac STS luxury sedan, and the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class luxury sport coupe.
According to the Forbes.com article:
By brand, the most frequently stolen cars per 1,000 sold, were Chrysler products, with the Chrysler Sebring, Sebring Convertible and PT Cruiser, and the Dodge Avenger and Dodge Caliber making the top 20 in addition to the aforementioned 300 and Charger.
General Motors came in second, with four vehicles among top 20, with the Pontiac G5 and G6 and Chevrolet Impala joining the STS.
While the Toyota Camry was the most purloined model overall in terms of sheer numbers, at 781 stolen in 2009, it ranked 50th as a percentage of sales at just 1.74 per 1,000 cars.
Michelle Koueiter writes for Autonews.com that the report “excludes most SUVs and pickups, so the Cadillac Escalade won’t make this list.”
Forbes.com offers the following suggestions to prevent your vehicle from being stolen:
- Don’t leave the keys in the ignition when you leave the car.
- Keep the windows and sunroof closed, and don’t hide a spare key where a smart crook might find it.
- If you have a garage, park inside it, not merely out on the driveway, and make sure the garage and car doors are closed and locked at all times.
- If you park on the street, choose a spot close to other vehicles, turn your wheels toward the curb, and engage the emergency brake to make it more difficult to be towed.
- Away from home, park in a well-lit or well-traveled area after dark, and avoid using long-term parking lots; take a taxi to the airport instead.
- Have your car or truck’s vehicle identification number (“VIN”) — found on the driver’s side of the dashboard at the bottom of the windshield, as well as on the model’s title — etched on the windshield and major parts to make them more difficult for thieves to sell as replacement parts.
- Use an anti-theft device, which will often also warrant a discount on your car insurance. A steering-wheel lock like the popular “Club” is simple, inexpensive, and can be as effective as costlier alarm systems. Anything like this that might slow a thief down can be a deterrent. You could also have a simple ignition “kill switch” installed in a hidden location, and use it every time you leave the car.
- Advanced vehicle recovery devices like LoJack and General Motors’ OnStar system use technology similar to that employed in satellite navigation systems to help police departments locate cars and trucks if they are stolen. They can be costly and require a monthly subscription, but if you own a luxury car, the monthly fees are usually warranted.
Here is mechanic Scotty Kilmer’s entertaining short video with a helpful tip to keep your car from being stolen:
Here is a slide show by Forbes.com, of the cars with the highest 2009 theft rates: http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehmk45fdhh/ford-shelby-gt#content.