Why is the 1997 Honda Accord the Most Stolen Car in the U.S?

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1997 Honda Accord
Yes, according to National Insurance Crime Bureau, the 1997 Honda Accord is the most stolen car in the United States again.

Every year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s ‘Hot Wheels’ report gives us some interesting statistics. For the fourth year in a row, the 1997 Honda Accord is the most stolen car in the United States. Coming in at number two is the 1998 Honda Civic.

A couple of publications have written articles with a headline asking why, but rarely come up with much. They tend to go with: “it’s very popular” and “they are one of the best selling cars of all time”. Neither statements actually answer the question though. After all, the Toyota Camry actually outsold the Accord in 1997.

Anyone who has taken an intro to psych or a statistics class has heard the old adage “Correlation does not imply causation.” For those who haven’t been beaten over the head with that particular stick, it means that just because two trends seem to fluctuate in tandem, it doesn’t prove that they are meaningfully related to one another.

This can be hilariously demonstrated using graphs. The following graph shows two trends that are closely matched through the years 2000-2009:

To some people, the amount of margarine consumed per capita would appear to affect the divorce rate in Maine. To anyone else, that’s just an amusing coincidence. There are plenty more amusing examples available but let’s get back to cars.

The actual reasons:

Part of it is actually their popularity, but there are other major factors. Hondas are, of course, notoriously reliable. For that reason, there is still a large amount of them on the road. To feed the parts for those cars still motoring, there is a thriving second-hand market. On top of that, car parts on ’90s Hondas are often interchangeable over multiple model years, meaning they are likely to be sold quickly.

The reason for the model years being the most stolen model is that the Accord didn’t get immobilizer technology until the model year after the 1997 Honda Accord. The Civic didn’t get good theft protection technology until 2001.

Criminals often work by word of mouth, and showing someone how to steal an old Accord or Civic gets passed on again and again. It’s roughly the same for stealing most cars, but most car thieves aren’t mechanics. They’re mostly opportunists, and something as common as ’90s Hondas provide plenty of opportunities.

As the last model year of the Accord finally starts to dwindle in numbers, we expect 99-01 Civics to start topping the charts. Or, it could be that many turn of the century Civics are being properly protected by tuners.

What else is in the top 10?

Honda will obviously be a little embarrassed at being the top of the most stolen list. But the top four cars in the list are all over a decade old. The Honda Accord is 20 years old. In fact, we think the lead has been buried as the company that should actually be ashamed of itself is Toyota. They have the number five most stolen car in America, and that model is:

The 2016 model year Camry.

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