Car theft is a growing problem in the United States. As the value of vehicles and the cost of parts rise, thieves increasingly have an incentive to steal and resell or part-sell popular models. The National Insurance Crime Bureau has released its annual Hot Wheels Theft Report for 2021, and the most popular stolen cars are no surprise.
The most stolen cars of 2021:
- Chevrolet pickup truck (full-size): 48,206 total thefts
- Ford Pickup (Full Size): Only 47,999 steals
- Honda Civic: 31,673 total thefts
- Honda Accord: Total 30,274 thefts
- Toyota Camry: 17,270 total thefts
- GMC Pickup (Full Size): Only 15,599 steals
- Nissan Altima: 14,108 total thefts
- Honda CR-V: 13,308 total thefts
- Jeep Cherokee / Grand Cherokee: 13,210 total thefts
- Toyota Corolla: 12,927 total thefts
Full-size trucks from Chevrolet and Ford lead the list, as they did in 2020, joined by a who’s who of popular sedans, trucks and SUVs. Many of the vehicles on the list are from the early 2000s, which is consistent with law enforcement statistics. The Sacramento Bee recently interviewed members of the California Highway Patrol, who noted that they prefer older vehicles with turnkey ignition systems because of the ease with which a thief can start them. Compare the list of cars from the early 2000s to the most popular models on the road, and it’s easy to see why the 2004 and 2006 Chevy and Ford pickups were the most stolen cars in the country in 2001.
A study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau supports this theory, arguing that the popularity of the vehicle and its relative availability on the streets contribute to its theft. The numbers are impressive, with two full-size pickups reaching nearly 50,000 thefts in 2021. The Honda Civic came in third with just over 30,000 thefts, and the Toyota Camry rounded out the top five thefts with about 17,000.
Read more: How to replace ownership of a lost or stolen car
Another major factor in the problem could be the persistent supply chain shortages, which make new and used vehicles more expensive. Shortages of inventory and continued high demand have driven up the price of all used vehicles, so thieves are tempted to steal and take cars and trucks to be dismantled in other countries. They can also be broken down into parts that increase in value.
All that said, what can you do to prevent your car from being stolen? The good news is that even if you drive one of the popular stolen cars on the list, you can take steps to make your car less attractive to thieves.
How not to become a victim of car theft
Keep the car locked
It may seem obvious, but locking your doors is one of the best ways to protect your car. The extra time it takes a thief to get past a locked door may be what prompts them to look at another target. Sure, they can break your window and get to work, but a locked door is an added deterrent that can make all the difference.
Clean your car
Do not leave valuables or other items in plain sight inside the car. If thieves see money, a purse or wallet or similar items lying around, this tells them that the car is worth breaking into. While a thief may be looking for more than loose change and old CDs, it’s best not to give them unnecessary motivation.
Park in a safe place
It’s not always possible to park in a well-lit, secure garage, but where you leave your car can make all the difference. If you can’t find a well-lit spot in a garage or lot, parking outside under lights or in a busy neighborhood is a good option. The idea is to make your car as unattractive as possible so that light and people can be an essential deterrent to theft.
Car alarms are great, but thieves have sometimes figured out how to disable or disarm them. A car tracking system and an immobilizer are a great way to prevent your car from disappearing. There are several inexpensive systems on the market, many of which offer convenient smartphone apps.