SECURITY: LoJack Releases 2015 Vehicle Theft Report

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2015_LoJack_Recovery_Stats_FINALLoJack is out today with its seventh annual “Vehicle Theft Recovery Report” of stolen cars recovered in 2015. The bad news for consumers? The cars topping the list aren’t exotics. They’re everyday vehicles, and not high-end exotics.

Also, LoJack is sounding the alarm that smart-chip ignition keys are an effective deterrent, but car thieves are finding ways around them in sometimes simple, yet dangerous ways.

Which Cars Are Stolen The Most?

In terms of the most popular targets of car thieves, look no further than the list of some of the top-selling cars.

According to LoJack’s Vehicle Theft Recovery Report, these are the top 10 most stolen and recovered vehicles in 2015:

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Honda Accord
  3. Toyota Camry
  4. Toyota Corolla
  5. Acura Integra
  6. Nissan Altima
  7. Ford F-250
  8. Ford F-150
  9. Nissan Maxima
  10. Chevy Tahoe

It’s not so much a question of volume as it is demand for parts, according to Pat Clancy, LoJack’s vice president of law enforcement. “I operate under the premise auto theft is predicated on auto repairs and usage,” he said in an interview with BestRide. Something needs fixed and less scrupulous auto repair facilities put out a call for parts. “That’s really what the demand comes from,” he said.

The average value of vehicles recovered in 2015 was $10,287, according to LoJack research. The most expensive vehicle stolen and recovered in 2015 was a 2011 Bentley GT, valued at $138,481.

The top vehicle models over $30,000 recovered in 2015 included:

  • Land Rover Range Rover
  • Ford F-Series
  • BMW X-Series
  • Chevy Camaro
  • Audi Q-Series

In 2015, law enforcement officials recovered more than $112 million in stolen vehicles equipped with the LoJack. Overall, according to FBI statistics, about 670,000 vehicles were stolen nationwide in 2014. The first half of 2015 saw a 1 percent increase in vehicle thefts.

It’s important to note that all figures quoted are from cars recovered by LoJack. The information is gathered from data provided by 28 states and California law enforcement, and is specific to stolen cars, trucks and SUVs equipped with the LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System.

How Cars Are Stolen

Clancy said ignition keys with chips embedded in them did a lot to thwart car thieves. (Most cars are equipped with the keys, which pair with an internal receiver in your vehicle – absent the two “talking” to each other, a vehicle won’t start.)

But then thieves, he said, resorted to the tried and true methods, such as stealing a car with the keys in the ignition.

Don’t believe leaving your keys in your car, even to warm it up or cool it off, is a bad thing? According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, from 2012 through 2014, 126,603 vehicles were reported stolen with the keys left in the vehicle.
As a percentage of overall thefts, 5.4 percent of vehicles stolen (39,345) in 2012 had their keys in them. That figure rose to 6 percent (42,430) in 2013, and in 2014, it increased to 6.7 percent (44,828), which is the latest year statistics are available for.

Law enforcement calls these types of thefts “puffers.” Opportunistic thieves steal cars they see running (emitting puffs of smoke from tail pipes). He said entrepreneurial car theft rings will hire spotters to case neighborhoods and pick off idling vehicles.

Clancy said carjackings are also on the rise. “It goes on every day,” he said.

Thieves will also break into homes, stealing cash, electronics, and other valuables – and then snatch your car keys on the way out. Increased activity, Clancy said, is being driven by more opioid drug abusers seeking means to pay for their habits and early releases of non-violent offenders to relieve overcrowding in correctional facilities.

Where Cars Are Stolen

Ok, now that we know what is being stolen and how it is being stolen, the next most important question is, where are cars being stolen?

States with the most thefts and recoveries in 2015:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. New York
  5. New Jersey
  6. Arizona
  7. Maryland
  8. Georgia
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Nevada

Nine of those states are in the top 12 for population. Only Maryland, the 18th biggest state for population, stands out. Those numbers could be impacted somewhat by the presence of the Port of Baltimore.

Why’s that significant? Clancy said a popular target of car thieves is export. Stolen vehicles packed in shipping crates have been recovered. He said there was one instance where the LoJack detectors at California’s Port of Long Beach detected a signal – and then found 41 other stolen cars being readied for export. That led to the return of an estimated $3 million in stolen cars.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide.com’s local search

Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin is an automotive columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal and CarGurus.com, as well as a reviewer for the Boston Globe, and - most importantly - dad to two great girls.