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Auto Theft List Called Misleading By Critics

December 16, 2002

According to USA Today, an annual list of the 10 vehicles most popular with thieves prompted critics, including the auto industry, to call it incomplete and misleading.According to USA Today, the National Insurance Crime Bureau's most-stolen list fails to say what model years are thieves' favorites. The list shows Toyota Camry and Honda Accord as the most-often stolen, which is statistically logical because those are the best-selling cars in the USA. USA Today further says the list does not show that those mainly are models built in the 1980s, rather than the newer versions with factory-installed anti-theft systems. "If it doesn't specify model year, it is not worth that much," says Tom Libby, a statistical analyst with research and consultanting firm J.D. Power and Associates. "It should at least be footnoted that it is older models most likely to be stolen," Libby says.According to USA Today, the NCIB, supported by insurance companies, says using model-year designations would "convolute" the report. "We have found that the average citizen just wants to know what is the make and model of the most-stolen vehicles," says Ed Sparkman, NCIB spokesman."They are grabbing headlines and TV sound bites," says Toyota spokesman John McCandless. He says all Camrys since 1997 have come with either an engine immobilizer or other anti-theft device.USA Today reported that Sparkman says the NCIB might consider including the model years because "we get criticized for this every year."The report also lacks theft rates — how many are stolen for each 100,000 or 1 million on the road, accordin to USA Today. Because there are so many Camrys and Accords on the road, a lot of them can be stolen without creating a high theft rate for those models and the owner concern that would accompany it. On the other hand, only a few thefts of a rare car, such as a Ferrari, would produce a high theft rate. According to USA Today, the NCIB gets its data from the National Crime Information Center, created by the FBI to compile data from police departments across the nation. Police enter vehicle identification number — VIN — of a stolen car in the NCIC data base so that an officer who stops a car in, say, Louisiana could find out that it's been stolen from Iowa. The FBI allows the NCIB access to the stolen-vehicle data. All auto manufactures use a VIN that, in addition to being simply a serial number, also identifies the model year, brand and model name as well as engine type and assembly plant location for the vehicle.About 1.2 million vehicles were stolen in 2001 up 5.7 percent from auto thefts in 2000, according to USA Today.
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