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Car thefts continue to decline in U.S., FBI says

Statistics show a 3.3 percent drop since last year and a 35 percent slide since 2007.

By Claire_Martin Oct 31, 2012 9:54AM
Honda Accord photo by Honda2011 marked a pivotal rebound for the auto industry, and it was also a good year for car owners: Thefts dropped by 3.3 percent. According to statistics recently released by the FBI, there were 715,373 motor vehicle thefts in 2011 -- most of them cars. 

This decline is part of a decade-long trend. The 2011 car-theft figures represent a 35 percent decline since 2007 and a 42.6 percent drop since 2002.
Credit goes in part to the auto industry's increasingly sophisticated and effective security systems, says Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“Manufacturers are providing much better theft protection today, and the higher you move up the food chain with vehicles, theft protection is enhanced,” Scafidi said to Bloomberg News.  

However, thieves continue to target the same cars. As we wrote about earlier this year, the Honda Accord, Honda Civic and Toyota Camry continue to dominate lists of the most stolen vehicles in America. So far this year, the 1994 Accord is car thieves' top darling, followed by the 1998 Honda Civic, the 2006 Ford F-Series pickup, the 1991 Camry and the 2000 Dodge Caravan.

These vehicles are perennial targets because of their sheer popularity, fueling a "turn and burn" parts market, but also because most lack the theft-prevention systems that come standard in late-model and higher-end automobiles.

Regionally, the Northeast has the highest percentage of vehicle thefts, while the Midwest and West tie for second. The part of the country where car owners can sleep easiest? The South.

[Sources: FBI, Bloomberg]
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