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Car Thieves Remain Partial to Toyotas and Hondas

March 28, 2001|JOHN O'DELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 25 most-frequently stolen cars in California last year were almost all Toyotas and Hondas. And although car makers hate being on the annual list, it does say a lot about the quality and durability of their vehicles.

Car thieves, after all, steal mainly to supply a market for parts--so they steal popular older models that are in plentiful supply.

"It's not a great marketing tool" to say that your cars are the ones thieves favor, "but it does speak positively about them," said Dan Gorrell, vice president of Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based automotive market research firm.

As usual, California car thieves followed the national norm--the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord accounted for 17 of the 25 most-frequently stolen models nationally last year and 21 of the top 25 in California, according to CCI Information Services Inc., which tracks auto-theft trends for the insurance industry.

Camrys and Accords are prime targets because they have been hot sellers for years and often last for several hundred thousand miles. And the vehicles don't change much from year to year, so many parts are interchangeable between model years. It all adds up to a huge parts market.

Toyota's 1989 Camry was the nation's most-stolen model in 2000, while the 1988 Camry was the vehicle most often reported stolen in California. In fact, various model-year Camrys occupied the first five slots on California's most-stolen list, as well as the top four places nationally, according to CCI.

Honda Accords filled slots six through nine and 11 through 14 in California--and it was another Honda, the 1991 Civic--in 10th place. Nationally, various Accords were the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth most-popular targets of car thieves.

For the first time in California, despite the brand's overall popularity, there are no Ford products on the hot-car list--the 1993 Chevrolet C1500 full-size two-wheel-drive pickup replaced the Ford F150 (a 1997 model, also two-wheel-drive) as the 15th most-frequently stolen vehicle in the state. That No. 15 slot is the highest attained by a domestic model in import-heavy California.

The stolen vehicles list is almost a mirror image of buying preferences, with imports dominating in the Northeast and West and domestics taking the lead in the center of the nation.

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Hot Wheels

In a twisted sort of endorsement, thieves in California gravitated to Toyotas and Hondas in 2000. Here are the 10 makes and models most frequently reported stolen last year:

*--*

Rank Year, make and model 1 1988 Toyota Camry 2 1989 Toyota Camry 3 1990 Toyota Camry 4 1991 Toyota Camry 5 1987 Toyota Camry 6 1990 Honda Accord EX 7 1991 Honda Accord EX 8 1991 Honda Accord LX 9 1994 Honda Accord EX 10 1991 Honda Civic

*--*

Source: CCI Information Services Inc.

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