Auto Theft On The Rise

2002 Toyota Camry XLE sedan AP

Auto theft in the United States rose for the first time in a decade in 2000, with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord remaining the most popular targets of thieves, a report said.

Nationwide, auto thefts increased 1.2 percent from 1999 to 2000, according to the report released Tuesday by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In 1999, the number of vehicles reported stolen across the country was 8 percent less than in 1998 — and the lowest number since 1985.

"The troubling 2000 statistics indicate we need to commit more resources to address this problem and help prevent this increase from becoming a trend," said Robert Bryant, president and chief executive officer of the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit group.

There were 1,165,559 auto thefts in 2000, compared to 1,152,057 in 1999, the NICB said, citing statistics gathered by the FBI.

The list of most stolen vehicles contains a mix of passenger cars and sport utility vehicles. Six of the top 10 are from U.S. automakers.

The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord were followed by the Oldsmobile Cutlass, Honda Civic, Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet full size C/K pickup, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Caprice, Ford Taurus and Ford F150 pickup.

The F150 reappeared on the list this year after dropping off it in 1999. The pickup replaces the Chevrolet Cavalier, which was the 10th most-stolen car in 1999.

"Thieves typically choose these vehicles because of their huge profit potential when the cars are stripped down to their components, which then supply a vast black market for stolen parts," Bryant said.

He suggested the rise in auto thefts is due to a slowing U.S. economy, reassignment of law enforcement officers from auto theft task forces and open international borders that make it difficult to monitor stolen vehicles.

The study also showed differences in the vehicles targeted by thieves in different metropolitan areas.

American cars were more attractive to thieves in cities such as Chicago, while pickups were more frequently stolen in Dallas. In the Los Angeles area, thieves preferred Japanese models, the NICB said.

The group ranks the stolen cars by combining theft reports for all years of a particular make and model.


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