While some movies like Gone in 60 Seconds may glamorize car theft, if you've ever been on the victim end of such a crime, it's unlikely that you see the appeal. According to the FBI there were an estimated 721,053 car thefts in the United States in 2012, costing an estimated $4.3 billion in losses. What is also clear from the data is that although the rate of car theft is steadily declining from an all time high in 2003, there are some specific cars that are the biggest targets for car thieves, namely the Honda Accord and the Honda Civic. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) the most stolen vehicles in the nation in 2012 were the Honda Accord with 58,596 cars stolen, and the Honda Civic with 47,037 cars stolen, respectively. Interestingly enough, it isn't the newer model Hondas that are frequently targeted, but the models manufactured between 1990 and 2000. The 1996 Honda Accord was the single most stolen car, with 8,637 thefts in 2012 alone. In fact, if you look at the top stolen cars across all years, makes, and models, the Honda Accord and Civic account for every single one of the top 16. The newer Honda models usually don't make it onto most-stolen lists, largely because Honda has made significant improvements to their anti-theft systems, but the models built between 1990 and 2000 remain prime targets for theft.
So who are these import-obsessed thieves, and why are they targeting Honda Civics and Accords as if they were the gazelles of the car jungle? First off, it's important to understand what happens with cars after they get stolen. The overwhelming majority are stripped of valuable parts which are then resold to shops or middlemen, who save money by avoiding having to pay a manufacturer price, while still passing on the costs to repair customers. This is somewhat different than the perception people may have about stolen cars, which is that after they have been taken, someone else drives them as their own. This is typically not the case, and you're much more likely to get a phone call from the police months after your car was stolen, letting you know that it's been found in a strange area, stripped of valuable parts such as wheels, airbags, catalytic converters, stereo systems, and car batteries.
With that in mind, we can get a better idea of why thieves tend to steal Accords and Civics. Since they are incredibly popular cars due to their reliability, there are millions of them on the road which creates both demand and opportunity. The demand comes from millions of customers looking for parts to repair their Honda, which allows the market of stolen parts to thrive. Additionally, many of the parts for the Accord and Civic are interchangeable over the model years. The opportunity comes from the number of Accords and Civics on the road, more than enough for ambitious thieves to choose from. Coupled with the relatively lax security features on the older model Hondas, it creates the perfect storm, and becomes a dangerous headache for car owners and insurance companies. And in the unlikely event that you're a car thief reading this right now, MechanicAdvisor.com is one of the largest online mechanic resources in the US. We are the premier website for consumers to research and connect with reputable local mechanics for routine and specialty automotive repair. Our website features instructional videos, articles about maintaining your car, and detailed profiles of over 500,000 mechanics across the country. If you're a shop owner, please claim your shop page for free here