Auto theft up in 2011: What you need to know

9:55 AM, Sep 26, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- In the state of Ohio, 21,428 cars were stolen in 2011. That is a car every 48 minutes that has been stolen.

Across the Cleveland and Akron area, theft of an automobile rose 15 percent since 2010.

In 2011, the Cleveland metropolitan area ranked 57th in the United States with 6,603 cars stolen. The Akron metropolitan area came in at 164th with 1,217 cars stolen.

Smash-and-grab is still the preferred way to steal a car, according to police. Most cars stolen in the state of Ohio are late-1990 model cars.  

Statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau show the top ten cars stolen in Ohio are:

1.    2000 Dodge Caravan

2.    1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)

3.    1996 Honda Accord

4.    1996 Oldsmobile Cutless/Supreme/Ciera

5.    1999 Ford Pickup (Full Size)

6.    1994 Buick Century

7.    1998 Ford Taurus

8.    1998 Honda Civic

9.    2005 Chevrolet Impala

10.  1996 Chevrolet Pickup (Small Size)

The Cleveland Police Department says the Dodge Caravan tops the chart because they are easy to steal and people use them for joy riding.

Nationally, the top three stolen cars are 1994 Honda Accords, 1998 Honda Civics and 2006 Ford Pickups (full size).

"This generation's muscle cars are the Honda Accords, Toyotas so they can race them and steal those cars for more parts," said Detective Gerald Hall, with the Cleveland Police Department's Auto Theft Unit.

In Akron, 591 cars have been stolen since the beginning of 2012.  Lieutenant Rick Edwards says the number one stolen vehicle is a Ford Explorer, followed by a Buick Century, Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevy Impala and Malibu.

In Westlake, Police Capt. Guy Turner says, "The makes and models are all over the map, from Toyotas to a Jaguar."  

Each city WKYC talked to assured us this type of crime is down this year but thieves are getting smarter. A new way of stealing a car is unveiling itself.

Thieves are now copying your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and obtaining your information. They then have a secondary key made two ways.

One way is by falsifying documentation and visiting a locksmith or auto dealer to make a key. The other way is to have an accomplice in the dealership or a locksmith.

"They feed that person with the VIN and then he provides them with the smart key code and creates a key and that's a lot easier to steal your car," says Capt. Turner.

Police count on that paper trail to help catch the crooks.

"If you're walking into the dealership to pick up the key from the no-good auto thief conspirator, you're on video. If you're going to the title bureau because you have created an artificial document or illegal title, you are on video." Capt. Turner added.

Another crime that is up is car insurance fraud. Questionable claims have increased 20 percent the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011.

"They report their car stolen but we find it later intact or stripped, in a junk yard or burned," said Det. Hall.

Police say this crime is a little easier to fight because of units like the Joint Task Force, a collective group of inter-agencies that can work together to lower the auto theft claims.  

WKYC has come up with the top five ways to protect your car from being stolen.

1.    Buy the original car "Club."

2.    Don't leave a copy of your car key in your car.

3.    Use an auto theft device, like a car alarm, have a fuel cut off or kill switch.

4.    Park in well-lit areas.

5.    The most important way you can stop your car from being stolen is be vigilant and talk to your neighbors.


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