The first decade of the 2000’s isn’t quite finished yet, but when it comes to annual lists of the nation’s most stolen vehicles, we think we get the idea. These all-star hijacked vehicles have tickled the fancy of crack fiends, eBay pirates and listless Vin Diesel fans for at least eight of the last 10 years. (There apparently aren’t complete numbers earlier than 2001, and lists for 2009 and 2010 haven’t been released yet.)
We arrived at these results by comparing top-10 stolen vehicle lists from the National Insurance Crime Bureau over the last eight years, looking for consistent list presence and rank. Since three is a trend, all of these cars graced the list at least three times. If you own one of these cars, it’s time to get nervous.
13) The Toyota Corolla – It’s no Maserati. But while the Corolla doesn’t exactly allow for harrowing, tread-laying getaways, it does lend itself to copious part-stripping and resale, since there are so many of them around. The Insurance Information Institute says a car is stolen every 24 seconds, but Toyota says another Corolla is sold every 40 seconds — which almost makes their popularity with thieves a coincidence. Plus, they’re just so darn cute. After four years off the list, the 2007 model jumped back on the year after it was released.
12) The Ford Taurus – The amphibian-resembling flagship of ’90s yuppies and soccer moms may not have been the most glamorous automobile, but it looked like a million bucks to the thieves who put it on the NICB’s top-10 list three times. Demand for parts may have been its charm, since the sheer number of aging Tauruses on the street doubtless creates a thriving market for their hulled-out carcasses. The late ’90s, oval-windowed models are especially popular with Joe Coat-Hanger.
11) The ’90s Jeep Cherokee – The Cherokee and its Grand Cherokee sibling are a surprising addition, since the car’s drivetrain problems should have made it a risky venture (who wants to steal a car that ceases up a block away?). However, its popularity with rugged, individualistic urban commuters, coupled with its latent mechanical problems, seemed to create an enticing vacuum for spare parts. Nineties models of this machine are stolen like silverware at Applebee’s.
10) The 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass – The Cutlass (grouped together with the Supreme and the Ciera on lists) must have used diamond earrings as electrodes, because this dino-clunker made the top-10 list four times in the last decade. One cause may be the tendency by some owners to deck it out with aftermarket rims, hydraulics and sound systems, which might explain why this particular car was stolen while AMC Eagle wagons and Toyota Space Cruisers were not.
9) The ’80s Toyota Pickup – If the vagueness of this vehicle’s name says anything about how common old Toyota pickups are, it almost makes sense why so many of them are lifted for parts. Besides their tendency to be raised on monster wheels (a nice treat for Mr. Car Thief), these trucks can be spotted with a wide array of camper shells, flood lights, roll bars, removable CD players and other delicious accessories. Their construction has also stayed nearly identical since 1979, making parts extremely interchangeable. Plus, anyone spotted getting away in one would just be mistaken for the gardener leaving. The 1986 model is the most stolen.
8) The Dodge Ram – The third-generation Dodge Ram pickup has remained incredibly popular since its release in 2003, even winning Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award. Unfortunately, its popularity lands it on another list fairly consistently, and the 2004 and 2005 models have enjoyed frequent hijacking by villainous ungulate thieves. With its primary buyers being suburban weekend-warrior types, the extended cab full of camping/snowboarding/surfing gear might have added to its appeal. For its popularity in both the New Trucks and Used Parts markets, the Ram lands at number 8 on the list of the 2000s’ most stolen cars.
7) The Acura Integra – In 2004, one out of every 200 registered Integras was stolen, which either speaks to thieves’ sensible consideration of fuel economy, or to the car’s wild popularity among the high-dollar, low-precaution street racing crowd. The Integra is another model frequently seen with aftermarket modifications, something that tends to catch the eye of auto-theft masterminds. That, plus the demand for used models and parts, gives thieves glassy doe eyes upon seeing the speedy roadster. It made the NICB’s list six times.
6) The Dodge Caravan – How heartless of car thieves to steal a minivan that’s probably filled with little Timmy’s soccer gear, little Annie’s art supplies and mom and dad’s golf equipment. Then again, that might be one of the ideas behind this family mover’s popularity with auto thieves, since the dog-like engine and leaden drivetrain give it little performance value. It’s even plausible that these despicable thieves became more active around Christmas, when the haul was sure to be that much juicier. The 1994 model held hijackers’ fascination for years before the 2000 version came along.
5) The Chevy C/K – This tough, hard-working pickup remained essentially the same from 1988 to its retirement in 1999, which spells used-parts fiesta for thieves. The 1992 and 1994 models are the most oft plucked from parking areas, curbs and fleet lots, probably because of bonuses like the discontinued turbocharger and the wide variety of engine and drivetrain options. A lot of them are outfitted with tool boxes and commercial accessories as well, and there’s always the tendency to macho up one’s pickup with aftermarket bravado. This workhorse was in the rustlers’ stables for at least six out of the last ten years.
4) The 1997 Ford F-150 – The combination of being America’s best-selling truck and having a big, parts-adaptable engine that sells like black-market kidneys puts this workman’s vehicle securely in the top half of nearly every NICB list to date. The new styling of the 1997 and the variety of available body options won it Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year, which doubtless gave it the sales numbers thieves rely on for a thriving parts market a decade later.
3) The 1989 Toyota Camry – Like the sun and the moon, the next three cars never seem to deviate from their courses in holding down the top three positions on every single NCIB stolen car list, albeit in varying order. The 1989 Camry was the quintessential low-budget, economical mom car 20 years ago, and there are still approximately 300 gazillion of them in service (by our estimation). So, besides the age of this particular model and the interchangeable nature of Toyota parts, it’s doubtful their reign over the lists has much to do with anything other than market saturation.
2) The Honda Accord – Just like its Camry neighbor, you can’t throw a rock in a populated area without hitting an Accord. Also like the Camry, there are many models of Honda between which you can swap parts. To the average auto-theft professional, this makes the nation’s roadworthy Accords an endless crop of universal Honda scrap ripe for the harvesting. The 1991 model was the most stolen version for years, with the 1994 version taking its place in 2002 and 2008.
1) The 1995 Honda Civic – Anyone who has glanced at more than one of these stolen car lists could have guessed which model would be at the top, and there are no surprises here. Besides having the same gargantuan numbers and parts interchangeability as the previous two entries, the Civic is known for being modified into exactly the sort of pimped-out, eyeball-grabbing machine thieves dream of boosting. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a little over 1 out of every 1,000 Civics was stolen in 2007, which is impressive considering the car’s production numbers. If you’ve ever driven anywhere more than a couple of hours away, chances are you’ve driven past a swiped Civic or two. If you’ve ever seen one at a parking lot meet, chances are it was stolen while you were grabbing lunch. For lending itself to parts compatibility, flamboyant showmanship and massive numbers all at once, the ’95 Civic reigns supreme as the nation’s most stolen car. Do you know where yours is?