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Is a thief targeting your ride?

Believe it or not, older vehicles are just as likely to be stolen.

By Donna_Freedman Aug 5, 2011 11:17AM
There's nothing like that new-car smell -- unless you're an auto thief, in which case old is gold and new is, well, risky.

Six of the 10 most-stolen vehicles in the U.S. were models from the 1990s, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau's "Hot Wheels 2010" report.

Why is that?

Older cars don't have the high-tech alarms and anti-theft systems common in newer models, and they're plenty valuable for parts. Your dear old Bessie is likely to wind up in a chop shop, whereas your neighbor's late-model pickup will probably have its vehicle identification number altered or be shipped outside the U.S.
Here's the NICB's list of the 10 most-snatched vehicles:
  1. 1994 Honda Accord
  2. 1995 Honda Civic
  3. 1991 Toyota Camry
  4. 1997 Ford F-150 pickup
  5. 2004 Dodge Ram pickup
  6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
  7. 1994 Chevrolet pickup (full-size)
  8. 1994 Acura Integra
  9. 2002 Ford Explorer
  10. 2009 Toyota Corolla

The good news? Vehicle theft dropped for the sixth consecutive year, according to the FBI's 2009 Uniform Crime Report. That year 794,616 vehicles were reported stolen. Post continues after video.

Of course, if it happens to you it's a crisis -- especially if the car isn't insured. A classic piece of advice is to consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on older-model cars. But as noted in "Cheap car insurance the smart way," that leaves you with nothing if the car gets stolen: "(Don't) take uncalculated risks that might hurt you financially."

Sure, the premiums might cost you more in a year than the car's Kelley Blue Book value. But are you in a position right now to get a replacement vehicle if your 1994 Integra disappeared from the driveway? (How does your vehicle compare on insurance rates?)

The NICB urges a "layered approach" to preventing vehicle theft:

  • Common sense. Lock the car, take your keys.
  • Warning device. An auto alarm may scare away crooks.
  • Immobilizing device. A "kill" switch, fuel cutoff or "smart key" can keep your wheels where they belong.
  • Tracking device. If your vehicle goes missing, a system such as the LoJack will allow its whereabouts to be tracked.
Those of you with trusty, paid-off vehicles from way back when: Keep an eye on your Tin Lizzie. Thieves may be eyeing it, too.

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