America’s most stolen vehicles

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You may be the world’s most cautious driver. Your onboard navigation aids may magically glide you around all road perils, both ahead and behind you. Your driving record may be as clean as a store-shelf Michelin.

But you still need auto insurance for the one hazard none of us can ever steer completely clear of: auto theft.

Is your vehicle one of America’s 10 most wanted by car thieves?

This year’s ‘hot wheels’

The National Insurance Crime Bureau has released its annual Hot Wheels report of the 10 vehicle makes and models most repurposed without the owner’s permission in 2012. Unlike another recent NICB report, which broke out by brand the 4,384 luxury vehicles stolen last year, the Hot Wheels list includes the cars and trucks most of us use every day.

The most stolen vehicles by number of reported thefts nationwide in 2012 were:
1. Honda Accord: 58,596
2. Honda Civic: 47,037
3. Ford Pickup (full-size): 26,770
4. Chevrolet Pickup (full-size): 23,745
5. Toyota Camry: 16,251
6. Dodge Caravan: 11,799
7. Dodge Pickup (full-size): 11,755
8. Acura Integra: 9,555
9. Nissan Altima: 9,169
10. Nissan Maxima: 6,947

NICB also expanded its Hot Wheels format to include model-and-year data on thefts by state. While no doubt there’s a statistics grad student out there already crunching these numbers into a master’s thesis (one prospective title might be “The New South Prefers Old Trucks”) there were some interesting finds on the state missing-in-action lists.

Older cars remain thieves’ faves

Nationwide, car thieves tend to steal vehicles that are 10 years old or older far more than recent models. In fact, in Washington state, none of the top 10 most-stolen vehicles, by model and year, was built in this century. In both Montana and Oregon, only one out of the top 10 was not at least a teenager. And just two out of the top 10 in Idaho, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Utah was from a model year starting with a “20” instead of a “19.”

The most-stolen honor nationally went to the 1996 Accord. A person the same age would have been just legal to drive last year, in most states.

To protect your ride — and your auto insurance rates — NICB recommends that you lock your car; install a “kill” switch, smart key or other immobilizing device that prevents thieves from starting it; and consider a theft alarm and GPS or wireless tracking device so police can locate your vehicle should it disappear.

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus

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Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook,” an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.