Florida's most stolen vehicles, and how to (better) protect yourself
Wake up and good morning. As one who has experienced the "joy" of having my own late '80s Toyota Camry stolen -- not once but twice-- in downtown St. Petersburg in years past, I thought you'd like to see what vehicles were most stolen in Florida last year. Here's the national report and here's Florida's Top 10:
1. 2000 Honda Civic (see photo)
2. 1996 Honda Accord
3. 1990 Toyota Camry (glad to see its popularity endures)
4. 2006 Ford F150 Pickup
5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 2008 Nissan Altima
7. 2000 Dodge Caravan
8. 2007 Toyota Corolla
9. 1995 Nissan Maxima
10. 1996 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
Certain models of older cars and trucks are popular with thieves because of the value of their parts. The National Insurance Crime Bureau, which produced these Top 10 data, says parts often can be stripped from a car at a chop shop and sold for at least twice as much as the value of the vehicle on the used car market. Newer models are also more difficult, but not impossible to steal thanks to anti-theft technology incorporated by the manufacturers.
My Camry was stolen, twice, for several reasons. It was a white Toyota (similar to one in photo) that was easy to break into and required only a screwdriver jammed into the ignition to start. Hopefully, Toyota makes more burglary-resistant ignition systems these days. Second, auto thefts at the time were rampant in St. Petersburg and Florida. In both cases, my Camry was stolen by joy riders who, after trashing the interior and putting some dents in the car, would eventually abandon it somewhere in St. Pete. And no, the police apparently never found the culprits either time.
The good news is that the preliminary 2008 FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) shows that vehicle theft is expected to record a decrease of 13.1 percent from 2007 numbers. That would make 2008 the fifth consecutive year of declining vehicle thefts. So if the preliminary figures prove true, total thefts for 2008 would be below 1 million vehicles—the lowest annual total in over 20 years.
Don't let those figures make you lazy. Here are some good suggestions from the NICB on how to make your vehicles less vulnerable to a rip-off. Good luck!
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist