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California and Mercedes-Benz: Car Theft Magnets

Before you decide to roll the dice and forgo buying a full coverage auto insurance policy, you might want to consider what the likelihood is that your car could be stolen.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recently released a report that details vehicle thefts for luxury models in the United States between the 1st of January 2009 and the 31st of December 2012. The goal of this report is to use this data in order to establish patterns and trends in order to raise awareness and to better allocate resources to prevent these thefts in the future, but it’s conclusions can also be used to help you decide what kind of insurance policy will be best for your particular situation.

The report covers luxury models that came out between 2010 and 2012 according to the classifications provided by Automotive News. As per these classifications, the models are categorized into three different groups according to size: compact, midsize and premium.

According to the NICB report, 4,384 vehicles were reported stolen during the set time period that match the criteria. Out of those, the compact luxury category makes up the bulk of the stolen vehicles with 2,150 reported thefts (49% of total thefts). 1,734 midsize luxury vehicles were stolen which amounts to 39.6% of the total and 500 premium luxury vehicles, which represents 11.4%.

Thefts by Make

It appears that Mercedes-Benz is the preferred make of vehicle targeted by thieves. Out of the Top 10 cars with most thefts, three of them are Mercedes-Benz, including the vehicle with the most thefts, the Mercedes-Benz C Class (485 reported thefts). The C Class is followed closely by the BMW 3 Series with 471 thefts and the Infiniti G Series with 405. The other makes and models that form the Top 10 are, in descending order: Mercedes-Benz E Class (381), Cadillac CTS (326), BMW 5 Series (256), Lincoln MKZ (226), Acura TSX (190), Lexus IS (177) and Mercedes-Benz S-Class (163).

Luxury Car Thefts

Thefts by State

The numbers of thefts in each state are widely disproportionate. The states with large populations that are concentrated in big, urban areas are the ones with the highest number of thefts. In fact, according to the NICB report, the Top 10 states with the most thefts account for 81% of the total number of thefts.

California is, by far, the state with most thefts with 1,063. It is followed by a wide margin by Florida with 674 thefts and New Jersey with 453. The other states in the Top 10 are, in descending order: New York (404), Michigan (230), Texas (229), Georgia (141), Illinois (132), Pennsylvania (112) and Maryland (109). States such as Wyoming and South Dakota only had one theft reported each.

Top 10 States for Luxury Vehicle TheftHowever, the report also looks at thefts in core-based statistical areas (CBSA). Here, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island CBSA occupies the first place with 806 thefts, followed by the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CBSA with 491 thefts and the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach CBSA with 452 thefts.

Even though 4,384 vehicles were stolen, 83.7% of them were recovered, leaving only 713 vehicles unaccounted for. These were likely stolen by professional rings of car thieves who changed their VIN numbers or broke them down for parts, making them almost impossible to trace anymore. These type of rings are centered in large metropolitan areas and that is why only four states account for the majority of unrecovered thefts: New Jersey is in first place with 158, Florida is in second with 155, New York is in third with 113 and California is in fourth with 111 (Texas follows in a distant fifth with only 26).

It should be noted that all of the information used for the NCIB report was provided by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This means that it only has access to the thefts that were reported and entered into their database. The actual numbers are going to be higher as the NCIC does not regard vehicle fraud as standard vehicle theft. The full report can be viewed here.