Are your vehicles prime targets for theft?

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recently released the latest annual Hot Wheels - its list of the 10 most-stolen vehicles in the U.S.

The report examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center and determines the vehicle make, model and year most reported stolen.

For 2011, the most-stolen vehicles in the nation were:

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.

Hot Wheels is the only report that examines all theft data without regard to a vehicle's insured status. If a vehicle was reported stolen to law enforcement, it is captured in this report.

Late model vehicles

It is interesting to note that while overall vehicle thefts continue to decline, there is a trend toward increases in the thefts of late model vehicles - ones that are theoretically harder to steal due to sophisticated key code technology.

However, vehicle thieves - who are typically professional criminals - have figured out how to get the key code for a specific vehicle, have a replacement key made and steal the vehicle.

Protection tips

So, what can you do to protect your cars? The NICB offers these simple, low-cost suggestions to make vehicles less attractive to thieves:

  • Use common sense. Make sure all drivers always lock their vehicles and take their keys.
  • Have and use a visible or audible warning device.
  • Use immobilizing devices. Because, generally speaking, if a 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.
  • Use tracking devices. Such devices emit a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen.

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.