5 Cars That Thieves Don't Touch (and 5 Simple Anti-Theft Tricks)

by Paul Michael on 6 December 2013 6 comments

Most of us won't ever know the heartache and misery of having our car stolen. Despite the fact that thieves steal a car every 43.7 seconds in America, you have to be pretty unlucky to walk to the street or parking lot only to see an empty space where your car once was. (See also: What We Learned When Our Car Was Stolen)

But is it all just luck? As it turns out, thieves play the odds and favor some cars way more that others. So it's in your best interest to choose a car that fits your needs and also makes car thieves look the other way. One of the best ways is to avoid luxury cars (which won't be an issue for most of us). The penalties for stealing cars are the same, whether you choose a clapped out old banger or a top of the line sports car. So why risk going to jail for something that will make you a few hundred bucks, when you could earn many thousands? But that's not the only factor.

The HLDI (Highway Loss Data Institute) recently released its list of the top five cars thieves avoid. The data comes from claims filed over the past year, parts taken from vehicles, or personal property stolen from within the car. Of course, we should all make sure we don't leave valuables in plain sight, that's just painting a target on your car. (See also: How to Prevent Car Break-ins)

So, in reverse order, here are the five cars you should consider if you'd like the odds to favor you and not the car thieves.

5. Toyota Matrix

(Starting price: $19,275)

Theft rate: 0.4 claims per thousand insured vehicles

The biggest reason this car (and most of the cars in this list) is not attractive to thieves is that it spends a lot of its time in a garage. The Matrix also suffers from styling issues and poor sales (the model will be discontinued in 2014). If the paying public doesn't want it, thieves don't want it either. After all, they're looking to make quick cash selling it or chopping it up for parts; a basic case of supply and demand. However, the car is cheap, and if you like the styling, it's well worth a look. (See also: How Much Should You Spend on a New Car?)

4. Acura RDX

(Starting price: $34,520)

Theft rate: 0.39 claims per thousand insured vehicles

At almost double the price of the Matrix, you'd think this one would be much more attractive to thieves. But once again, it's a crossover favored by suburban moms and spends the majority of its time in a garage. And if you're going to steal an Acura, why waste your time on a mom car when you can rip off a sportier version with a higher price tag?

3. Audi A4

(Starting price: $32,500)

Theft rate: 0.38 claims per thousand insured vehicles

I was surprised to see this car in this list. It seems far more likely to be one of the top five most stolen cars. It's got a high starting price, it looks great, it's fast, and there are a lot of them on the road. But the Audi A4 does come with some sophisticated anti-theft devices, and it's also regularly garaged.

2. Volkswagen Tiguan

(Starting price: $31,425)

Theft rate: 0.37 claims per thousand insured vehicles

Not to sound like a broken record, but the reason this car is at the number two spot is the familiar combination of style and location. The Tiguan is very popular with suburban moms and is not a car the thieves particularly care for. However, don't let that deter you. It's a dependable, good-looking crossover with a decent starting price. (See also: Simple Tips to Keep Your Car Running Longer)

1. Dodge Journey

(Starting price: $19,195)

Theft rate: 0.36 claims per thousand insured vehicles

This is it. The least stolen car in America. I have to admit, I wasn't surprised to see it in the list at all. The 2013 model is boxy and dated (the 2104 is much better). It's the cheapest car on the list, and it's very cheap for a crossover. Power and performance specs are nothing special. I think that helps explain why thieves pass this one by. It probably isn't hard to steal though, but as it's likely to be housed in a garage, it's not easy to get to.

The expanded top 10 list also included:

Toyota Sienna

(Starting price: $26,585)

Theft rate:0.5 claims per thousand insured vehicles

Jeep Compass

(Starting price: $18,495)

Theft rate: 0.5 claims per thousand insured vehicles

Lexus HS 250

(Discontinued)

Theft rate: 0.4 claims per thousand insured vehicles

Honda CR-V

(Starting price: $22,795)

Theft rate: 0.4 claims per thousand insured vehicles

Hyundai Tucson

(Starting price: $20,595)

Theft rate: 0.4 claims per thousand insured vehicles

5 Simple Ways to Deter Car Thieves

So, if you don't see your car on the list, or even worse, you car is one of the most stolen models each year (the Honda Accord is up there every year), what can you do about it?

Take a layered approach, and start with these basics.

1. Park in Busy, Well Lit Areas

If you park your car in a dimly lit side street with very few people around, you're just asking for trouble. If you were a thief, would you take on a car in plain view of the public, or the one no one can see? Exactly.

2: Put Valuables Out of Sight

Nothing happens by chance when it comes to car theft. Thieves are actively looking for reasons to grab your car…or whatever is inside your car. If you leave an expensive GPS system mounted on the windshield, or leave a purse, iPhone or laptop on the passenger seat, you're taunting them to rob you. And they'll be more than happy to take you up on your invitation.

3. Use the Emergency Brake

A sophisticated operation may use tow trucks to grab cars. You're making their lives so much easier by not using your emergency brake. Also, if you're parked on the street, turn the wheels towards the curb. You could also use wheel locks, gear locks and other theft deterrents. They're easy enough to get past, with time, but any obstacle you put in their way will make them choose a different car.

4. Don't Hide a Spare Set of Keys

You've seen the trick in movies. The crook (or hero) drops the sun visor and the keys fall into his or her lap. This is not a movie cliche; people do it, and it's dumb. Some will opt for the magnetic key box placed under the car. This is better, but still not a good idea. Thieves will look for a spare set before they smash and grab.

5. Lock Your Doors (Seriously)

Opportunist thieves will walk along a row of cars parked in the street, checking door handles one by one. Sure enough, they'll hear the satisfying sound of the door opening. It doesn't take much to hotwire a car, and your lax security has led to a very preventable theft.

Do you have a surefire way to stop thieves in their tracks? Write your suggestions in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
Audrey

Buy a car with manual transmission!

Guest's picture
joy

And all the better if it has a tricky clutch! : P This was my #1 requirement for the last car I bought (in a pinch, unfortunately after my truck was totaled). The standard, not a silly clutch : )

Guest's picture
Mikael

Good article! My advice is to put a leghold trap at your driver seat! Or to buy a Audi A4!

Guest's picture
Nick

Yay! I'm in the top 10. Let's hope I didn't jinx myself.... surprised about the Audi, too.

Guest's picture

I was hoping to find my car (Honda Civic) on this list but after thinking about it I realized that would probably be on the list of cars that thieves want to steal. Great tip about the emergency break, a simple thing to do and if it can mean the difference between losing or keeping your car I'll be reaching for it every time I park.

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A.M. Sapi

If you are really worried about your car being stolen, remove some fuses. Most cars will not start without some fuses, learn which ones. And they are usually easy to reach and a thief will not know why the car is not starting!