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posted: 8/2/2011 8:21 AM

Report: 1994 Honda Accord most popular for thieves

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Bloomberg News

Honda Motor Co.'s 1994 Accord was the most-frequently stolen car in the U.S. in 2010 for the third straight year as weak security systems and a demand for parts drew thieves, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said.

Almost 52,000 Honda Accords were stolen in 2010, the non- profit trade group said in a statement today, citing FBI data. The 1995 Honda Civic was thieves' second-favorite car last year and Toyota Motor Corp.'s 1991 Camry came in third. Honda and Toyota cars have been among the top three most stolen cars since 2000, according to the report.

"There is a substantial black market for hot parts," Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for Des Plaines, Illinois-based NICB, said in a telephone interview. "A lot of times, those vehicles are stolen and they're worth more in parts than they are intact."

This year was the first since 2002 that more domestic cars than foreign models made the NICB's top 10 list. Ford Motor Co. had three car models on the list, with Chrysler Group LLC's Dodge Ram and Dodge Caravan.

The increase in the popularity of domestic models may be tied to improvements in the reliability and durability of U.S. cars, said John Abounader, executive director of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators.

"When they're a well-made car, they're going to be stolen," he said in a telephone interview. "U.S. automakers have made advancements. People are noticing them finally."

Security Feature

A 1990s model of the Civic or Accord was the most stolen vehicle in 16 states, according to the NICB report. In 1997, Honda began equipping its cars with immobilizer systems, which prevent cars from running unless the driver has the key, said Chris Martin, a spokesman for Honda's U.S. unit.

The upgrade "really makes a big difference," he said in a telephone interview. "It raises the technological hurdle for a car thief to be able to drive away in one of our cars."

The FBI data used in the NICB report track only the most popular model year for each car on the top 10 most-stolen list, so that no vehicle is listed twice.

Nationally, U.S. vehicle thefts dropped to the lowest level since 1967 in 2010 after a seventh straight year of decline, according to preliminary figures from the NICB. California, which counted the Honda Accord as its most stolen car, had eight of the top 10 regions for car thefts.

Insurers including Allstate Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. offer discounts to customers who use antitheft devices. In addition to built-in security features, NICB recommends manufacturer-installed products such as LoJack Corp. tracking devices and Ravelco ignition disablers.