Numbers released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau show there was an 11 percent increase in the number of vehicles stolen in the U.S. last year, with the two most popular targets being Ford and Chevrolet half-ton pickups.
The FBI, which uses different methods to calculate crime statistics, found that motor vehicle thefts in the U.S. jumped 16.6 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
The year 2020 was tough for most everyone on the planet, but the hundreds of thousands of people who had their vehicle stolen last year got to deal with an extra helping of "Seriously, this too?" amid the pandemic. Thanks to numbers released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), drivers of Ford and Chevy full-size pickups were most likely to have to deal with having their vehicle disappear unexpectedly than anyone else.
In its annual "hot wheels" list (get it?), the NICB found that, overall, vehicle thefts were up 11 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. The top ten most stolen makes and models add up to just over 231,000 vehicles, led by full-size Ford pickups with 44,014 units stolen and full-size Chevy trucks in second place at 40,968. Coming in third and fourth places last year, respectively, were the Honda Civic and Accord. Late-1990s versions of these vehicles are popular targets for thieves because they were some of the last models built without anti-theft technology, NCIB said.
For the most part, thieves tend to pick older vehicles, the NICB found. For the Ford trucks, for example, the most common model year stolen was 2006, while the 2004 was the most common Chevy truck stolen. There are some surprises in the bottom half of the Top 10 most stolen vehicle list, though, with the Toyota Camry (fifth place overall), Nissan Altima (sixth), and Toyota Corolla (eighth) having their most common model year stolen being either 2020 or 2019. Rounding out the top 10 are the GMC full-size pickups at number seven, the Honda CR-V in ninth place, and the full-size Dodge pick-ups in tenth.
"Auto thefts saw a dramatic increase in 2020 versus 2019 in part due to the pandemic, an economic downturn, law enforcement realignment, depleted social and schooling programs, and, in still too many cases, owner complacency," said David Glawe, NICB president and CEO, in a statement.
The FBI, which uses different data collection methods than the NICB, found that, overall, there were around 407,000 motor-vehicle-theft incidents in 2020, a 16.6 percent increase over the 315,000 such incidents in 2019 and the 270,000 incidents that were reported in 2018. The real numbers of vehicles stolen in the U.S. are higher, as the FBI collects its data through the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which relies on numbers submitted by local law enforcement, and not all local agencies share their information with the Bureau. In 2020, for example, the FBI estimated national crime statistics based on data received from 15,875 of 18,623 law enforcement agencies that year.
However many vehicle thefts actually happened last year, the NICB offers some common-sense tips on how not to add to the statistics next year. The super-easy ones: always lock your car, park in well-lit areas, and don't leave your keys in the car. Installing a warning device or something that will immobilize or track your car will take a bit more effort, but it is worth considering if you think your vehicle is at risk.
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