Own a 1992 Honda Accord? Maybe not for long — it was the most stolen car in Arizona last year, according to a National Insurance Crime Bureau report recently released.
The study, titled Hot Wheels, lists every state’s 10 most stolen vehicles. Arizona’s second hottest boost, the 1995 Honda Civic, was America’s most stolen.
Hot Wheels is a supplement to an annual report that details national auto theft rates. For the third straight year, NICB reported that the area of Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale has the nation’s fourth highest auto theft rate. Las Vegas was No. 1.
The Valley is a popular target because of it’s proximity to an international border, said Enrique Cantu, executive director of the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority.
“Most cars are stolen between midnight and 5 a.m.,” he said. “When people wake up and their car is gone, it’s already easily into Mexico.
“It’s hard to stop the bleeding because of that,” Cantu said, referring to auto thefts.
But despite high theft rates, East Valley police departments are making progress.
Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe and Mesa are reporting lower totals this year. And Tempe is experiencing the most significant shift, a 25 percent decrease through August compared to 2006.
Chandler’s rate is 22.5 percent lower and Mesa’s dropped 13 percent during the same period.
Tempe police Sgt. Mike Horn said it’s difficult to attribute his department’s decrease to a single factor. But he said a combination of efforts has helped.
Special task forces, increased officer awareness and providing prevention tips to citizens have contributed, Horn said.
Tempe police also have started using bait cars, which lured a suspected auto thief to officers Oct 12.
The total number of thefts statewide has also decreased during recent years. However, 54,849 vehicles still were stolen in Arizona in 2006, the NICB report said. And nearly 40,000 of them were snatched from Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale. That’s more than one car stolen per every 100 people in that area, according to report data.
In Scottsdale, police reported an average of one car stolen every eight hours. The national rate: one every 26 seconds.
State and local authorities said thieves target areas with large groups of cars, like apartment complexes and shopping centers. Older model cars also are more vulnerable, as they have fewer security features.
While authorities said professional thieves can steal any car, simple precautions deter carjackers. Steering-wheel locks, hiding valuables and parking in well-lit areas can help cut theft risk.
“People don’t take some of the easiest precautions,” Cantu said. “Locking doors, not leaving keys in the car — they make a big difference, and we can do a good job at reducing theft in this state.”
Arizona’s top 10 stolen vehicles
1. 1992 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 2005 Dodge Ram Pickup
4. 1996 Chevrolet Full Size 1500 Pickup
5. 1994 Nissan Sentra
6. 1997 Ford F150 Series
7. 1997 Nissan Altima
8. 1993 Jeep Cheokee/Grand Cherokee
9. 1998 Dodge Neon
10. 1995 Saturn SL
America’s Top 10
1. 1995 Honda Civic
2. 1991 Honda Accord
3. 1989 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F150 Series
5. 2005 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 1994 Chevorlet 1500 Pickup
7. 1994 Nissan Sentra
8. 1994 Dodge Caravan
9. 1994 Saturn SL
10. 1990 Acura Integra