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2008 Impala Mich.’s most-stolen vehicle in 2016

Staff and wire reports

Car thieves are settling for older models, finding it’s easier to get away with a two-decade old Honda than break into better-protected vehicles made in recent years.

About 100,000 Accords and Civic compact cars were stolen last year in the U.S., the National Insurance Crime Bureau said in a report Wednesday. Less than 500 of the Accords were 2016 models, compared with about 7,500 from 1997.

“These cars remain popular among thieves because they were some of the last models built without the anti-theft technology that was introduced in the late 1990s,” the NICB said in its report.

But the Hondas didn’t even register on Michigan’s Top 10 list. The Chevrolet Impala was the most-stolen car; 764 Impalas were stolen last year, with the 2008 model the most popular year. At No. 2 was the Dodge Charger; 536 were stolen, with the 2016 model being the favorite. In fact, every vehicle on the state’s list was from a Detroit automaker.

Automakers have boosted anti-theft measures since the 1990s when Japanese companies were caught off guard by the persistence of criminals in the U.S. Since the introduction of technology such as the “smart key,” which allows access only to the person with the fob, Honda Motor Co. cars have been harder to steal, according to the report.

Jessica Pawl, a spokeswoman for Honda, said the data reflect the durability of the vehicles. She also stressed the company’s efforts to make new models harder to steal.

Still, thieves have been working to defeat the latest technologies by all automakers. Sophisticated criminals and networks are able to target more valuable vehicles and ship them overseas.

And careless drivers can negate the value of anti-theft devices by leaving the keys in the ignition when exiting their car for quick errands or a cup of coffee. Leaving a car running or with the keys or fob inside contributed to more than 57,000 thefts in 2015, according to the NICB.

“If you have a smart key and dumb driver, guess who wins?” Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the NICB, said by phone. “You can’t leave a key in the car.”

Among 2016 model-year vehicles nationwide, Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry sedan was the most stolen, with 1,113 thefts. It was followed by Nissan Motor Co.’s Altima and the Toyota Corolla. Among 2016 model-year vehicles in Michigan, the Dodge Charger and the Ford Fusion were tops.

While more cars were stolen last year than in 2015, theft is still down by more than half since 1991, Scafidi said, noting that an ever larger share of vehicles on the road boast anti-theft technology.

“The low-hanging fruit will disappear, and the garden-variety knucklehead car thief who can’t figure out how to ride a bus but can steal a car — because some of those older models are pretty easy — is going to have to find another line of work,” he said. “Because they’re very difficult to steal today.”

The NICB is a not-for-profit organization that partners with insurers and law enforcement to help prevent crime.

Bloomberg News contributed.

Michigan most-stolen

The most-stolen models in the state, followed by the model year with the most thefts:

1. Chevrolet Impala, 2008

2. Dodge Charger, 2016

3. Chevrolet Silverado, 2002

4. Chevrolet Malibu, 2013

5. Chrysler 300/300M, 2015

6. Ford F-150, 2004

7. Chevrolet Trailblazer, 2007

8. (tie) Dodge Caravan, 2002

8. (tie) Ford Fusion, 2016

10. Pontiac Grand Prix, 2004

Source: NICB

U.S. most-stolen

The most-stolen models in the U.S., followed by the model year with the most thefts:

1. Honda Accord, 1997

2. Honda Civic, 1998

3. Ford F-150, 2006

4. Chevrolet Silverado, 2004

5. Toyota Camry, 2016

6. Nissan Altima, 2015

7. Dodge Ram, 2001

8. Toyota Corolla, 2015

9. Chevrolet Impala, 2008

10. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, 2000

Source: NICB