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Car thefts rise 8% following record rise in used car prices

Criminals targeted pickup trucks the most in 2021

Car theft concept
Photo (c) Rapeepong Puttakumwong - Getty Images
With the prices of used cars at a record high, car thieves were very busy last year. For the second straight year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that full-size Ford and Chevrolet pickup trucks were the most-stolen vehicles.

In its annual Hot Wheels vehicle theft report, the NICB said that of the nearly 1 million total vehicles reported stolen in 2021, 14% of passenger vehicles were Chevrolet, Ford, and GMC full-size pick-up models.

"Crime is a business, and business is good," said David Glawe, CEO of NICB. "Used car values are at historical highs. We have seen a nearly 35% increase in used car values over the last two years due to supply chain issues and inflation. Stolen cars can be shipped overseas and resold or broken down for valuable used car parts here in the U.S."

Because of the escalating value of used cars, more intact vehicles are probably being sold on the black market than in recent years. That’s especially true of the full-size pickups on the list. On the other hand, thieves continue to target popular sedans because there is a ready market for their parts.

2021’s most stolen vehicles

Passenger vehicle thefts increased by 8% in 2021 when compared to 2020. Here’s how the list breaks down:

  1. Chevrolet pickup - 2004 model the most stolen

  2. Ford pickup - 2006 model the most stolen

  3. Honda Civic - 2000 model the most stolen

  4. Honda Accord - 1997 model the most stolen

  5. Toyota Camry - 2007 model the most stolen

  6. GMC pickup - 2005 model the most stolen

  7. Nissan Altima - 2020 model the most stolen

  8. Honda CR-V - 2000 model the most stolen

  9. Jeep Cherokee – 2018 model the most stolen

  10. Toyota Corolla - 2020 model the most stolen

With car theft on the rise, owners should take extra steps to protect their vehicles. In addition to always locking it up and taking the keys, the NICB suggests always parking the vehicle in a well-lighted area that is visible to passersby.

Make sure you never leave valuables in the vehicle passenger compartment where someone can see them. If you must keep them in the vehicle, lock them in the trunk where they will be out of sight.

Finally, the NICB suggests that car owners use an immobilizing or tracking device for their vehicles. The group's data shows that reporting a theft as quickly as possible improves the chances of recovery. Any delay gives thieves time to dismantle the vehicle for parts or get it out of the country.

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