Even as U.S. vehicle thefts dropped 3.3% in 2011 (to the lowest level since 1967), the 1994 Honda Accord was still the most stolen vehicle, its fourth consecutive year with that honor. 7,596 were taken in total. The 1998 Honda Civic was the second-most lifted car, followed by Ford’s full-size pickup trucks.
Are car thieves drawn to the ’94 Accord like woodpeckers to trees? Not exactly; they’re just easier to steal. Antiquated anti-theft systems (which are usually a blinking red light on the radio that’s labeled “Anti-Theft System” and nothing more) don’t help, and newer cars have immobilzer systems that require a key to be present in order to start the vehicle. Hot wiring thus becomes much more sophisticated and difficult. OnStar and vehicle tracking programs are also helping limit thefts.
Joe Brosius, retired Tempe, Arizona police officer and head of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, has his own theory of car thievery:
“If you’re going to be selling dope and stuff, robbing things, doing burglary, any other crime, you’re probably going to steal a car because you don’t want to use your own. It’s sort of a gateway crime.”
I wonder if gatewayed criminals refer to themselves as Brosius thinks.
“Me? Well, I’m doing burglary now. I sold dope and stuff before that, robbed some things. But I got my start when I stole a car for the heck of it.”
No, I don’t buy Brosius’ simplicity or reasoning. Stealing cars may come along with all those other crimes, but I doubt it causes some sort of criminal spark.
Walter White’s transformation to Heisenberg wasn’t propelled by the need to steal a car.