Millions of Americans will party their way into 2014, but some will end up stranded as car thieves take advantage of police distracted by drunk driving and other holiday mayhem.
According an analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation data by the Highway Loss Data Institute of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 4,380 vehicles were reported stolen in the U.S. on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in 2012.
That’s a statistical blip against the more than 250 million registered vehicles in the U.S., but the likelihood of car theft is considerably higher in the hours when people are toasting Father Time and Baby New Year.
New Year’s Day was ranked the top holiday for vehicle theft last year, with 2,228 reported incidents, while New Year’s Eve ranked No. 3, with 2,152 reports, after Labor Day’s 2,158 cases. (Memorial Day, Halloween and Christmas Eve are three other holidays during which reported auto thefts topped 2,000 last year.)
June 1, July 23 and Aug. 1 were the only non-holiday days last year with more reported auto thefts than Jan. 1, 2012. But consider the characteristics of the New Year’s holiday. Celebrations don’t begin until the evening and often run well toward the following morning. It’s common, too, for cars of binge-drinking revelers to be left somewhere to be picked up the following day. In that sense, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve is one window of opportunity for thieves that overlaps two calendar days.
What kinds of cars are getting stolen? First, it’s important to note that the HLDI’s statistics are based on insured vehicles and registered auto-theft claims rather than the most commonly stolen vehicles, which tend to be clunkers. For example, Honda Accords and Civics from the 1990s were the most commonly stolen vehicles in the U.S. in 2012, followed by Ford and Chevrolet pickup trucks from the mid-2000s or earlier, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The HLDI says its list is more reflective of the most commonly targeted vehicles, which unsurprisingly means newer, pricier vehicles. In fact, none of HLDI’s top 10 most targeted vehicles are sedans. The most-targeted vehicles are pickup trucks and SUVs, and last year the Cadillac Escalade was knocked off the top spot by Ford’s F-250 crew cab pickup. It seems overall that thieves are gravitating toward workhorses rather than luxury SUVs. Check out the list:
1) Ford F-250 crew 4WD pickup
2) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab pickup
3) Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 crew cab pickup
4) GMC Sierra 1500 crew pickup
5) Ford F-350 crew cab 4WD pickup
6) Cadillac Escalade full sized luxury SUV
7) Chevrolet Suburban full-sized SUV
8) GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab
9) GMC Yukon SUV
10) Chevrolet Tahoe SUV
As you can see, General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) divisions GMC and Chevrolet dominate the list. Also, the list shows thieves targeting the type of vehicles used by contractors, perhaps hoping to crib some extra loot in the form of tools. Meanwhile, only one luxury car, the Escalade, even makes it on the list, along with two full-sized SUVs. These are the kinds of vehicles that have greater value to crooks, whether they’re fencing them locally, sending them to lucrative used car markets abroad, or simply taking them apart and sending components into the black after-market.
GM would certainly like to see fewer of its vehicles making it on to this list. To that end the maker of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac has been rolling out in recent years more anti-theft features. This is one of the reason the HLDI says the Escalade fell from No. 1 on this list in 2011 to No. 6 last year. The latest GM vehicles to get enhanced anti-theft features are the coming versions of the two other GM vehicles on the HLDI list: the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. They’re getting what the Escalade and other high-end GM vehicles already have, including a steering column lock that prevents tow-away theft, stronger door-lock cylinders and shields to prevent access from slim jims, and hidden compartments for stowing away gadgets that can entice break-ins if they’re lying in plain sight.
“We have engineered a layered approach to vehicle security,” Bill Biondo, head of General Motors’ global vehicle security division, said in announcing the move last week. The top layer of this security: GM’s OnStar program that can locate stolen GM vehicles and even remotely disable or slow them with coordination by pursuing law enforcers.
By the way, just because you might not drive a $65,000 Escalade or own a workhorse pickup truck filled with tools doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about leaving your vehicle parked overnight in an alleyway near the location of your New Year’s party. Here’s the list of the most commonly stolen vehicles with or without insurance claims linked to their disappearances, according to the latest data from the NICB.
#1.) Honda Accord (model years 1990 to 1997)
#2.) Honda Civic (model years 1990 to 2000)
#3.) Ford F-Series pickups (model years 1997 and 1999 to 2008)
#4.) Chevrolet full sized pickups (model years 1992 to 1997, 1999 to 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007)
#5.) Toyota Camry (model years 1989 to 1991)
#6.) Dodge Caravan (model years 1997 to 2003)
#7.) Dodge full-sized pickups (model years 2001 to 2005)
#8.) Acura Integra (model years 1994 to 1996)
#9.) Nissan Altima (model year 1997)
#10.) Nissan Maxima (model year 1996)