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US: Top Stolen Cars, Cities With Highest Thefts

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
1995 Honda Civic Leads "The Most Stolen List"

NORWALK, Conn., Aug. 22, 2006 -- All car owners should be aware of the top stolen cars across the country and the metropolitan areas with the highest theft rates.

"Just because you have an inexpensive car doesn't mean you're safe from car theft," said NASCAR legend and AutoVantage spokesman Bobby Hamilton. "Next to your home, your car is probably your largest investment -- be aware and protect it from theft."

Each year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau ( conducts several studies identifying the most stolen cars and the areas of the country where the most cars are stolen.

"Living in one of these areas or having one of these cars is not a reason to move or sell your vehicle," said Brad Eggleston, vice president of AutoVantage. "But if you use common sense and spend a few extra dollars on anti-theft protection for your car, you're much less likely to become a victim."

The 10 metropolitan areas with the highest vehicle theft rates last year were:

   1.  Modesto, Calif.
   2.  Las Vegas/Paradise, Nev.
   3.  Stockton, Calif.
   4.  Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, Ariz.
   5.  Visalia/Porterville, Calif.
   6.  Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash.
   7.  Sacramento/Arden-Arcade/Roseville, Calif.
   8.  San Diego/Carlsbad/San Marcos, Calif.
   9.  Fresno, Calif.
   10. Yakima Wash.

The NICB also names the "hottest cars" in the U.S. In its most recent study, the most stolen cars were:

   1.  1995 Honda Civic
   2.  1989 Toyota Camry
   3.  1991 Honda Accord
   4.  1994 Dodge Caravan
   5.  1994 Chevrolet Full Size C/K 1500 Pickup
   6.  1997 Ford F150 Series
   7.  2003 Dodge Ram Pickup
   8.  1990 Acura Integra
   9.  1988 Toyota Pickup
   10. 1991 Nissan Sentra

Additionally, when it comes to insurance claims based on theft for one- to three-year-old models, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) gave the luxurious Cadillac Escalade SUV the dubious honor for most claims for the fourth year in a row. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Dodge Ram 1500 quad cab pickup rounded out the top three.

Regardless of the make and model, everyone should take precautions to avoid being a victim of auto theft. Here are a few suggestions from the experts:

  -  Practice common sense wherever you are. The easier it is to steal your
     car, the more likely you are to become victim to burglary. Don't leave
     your keys in the car and always lock your doors. Park in well-lit areas
     and avoid leaving your windows down. And never leave important papers
     like your pink slip of ownership in the car.

  -  Make it noticeable. Engaging a visible or audible warning device on
     your car is likely to hinder a potential thief from disturbing your
     car. Some examples you might consider using include:
       --  Audible alarms
       --  Steering column collars
       --  Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
       --  Wheel locks
       --  Theft deterrent decals
       --  Identification markers in or on your vehicle
       --  VIN etching

  -  Make it impossible. Installing a "kill switch," using smart keys or
     other immobilizing devices that prevent your car from being hot-wired
     will keep your car safe when you're not around.

  -  Make your car traceable. Have a tracking device installed in your car
     that is triggered to contact the police or another monitoring station
     if your car is stolen. This is a very effective tool for the
     authorities in recovering your vehicle.

You can spend as little or as much money on car safety as you want, but remember -- when it comes to protecting your investment, you can never be too cautious.

Bobby Hamilton, a spokesman for AutoVantage, is the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion after achieving four career NASCAR Winston Cup Series victories. He founded Bobby Hamilton Racing, which owns and operates three trucks in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit.

About AutoVantage

Members of AutoVantage ( or 1-800-876-7787) can save from 5 to 20 percent on car care at some 19,000 service locations, including participating AAMCO, Jiffy Lube, Meineke and American Car Care Center locations. AutoVantage also offers 24-hour nationwide emergency towing, roadside assistance, and lockout protection from its network of more than 10,000 emergency roadside assistance providers. Trip routing for maps and door-to-door driving directions across the U.S. are also included. AutoVantage is offered by Affinion Group, a leader in the membership, insurance and loyalty marketing businesses, providing products and services that touch the lives of millions of Americans.

About Affinion Group

Affinion Group is a leading affinity direct marketer of value-added membership, insurance and package enhancement programs and services to consumers. With more than 30 years of experience, Affinion Group currently offers its programs and services worldwide through more than 4,500 affinity partners. Its diversified base of affinity partners includes leading companies in a wide variety of industries, including financial services, retail, travel, telecommunications, utilities and Internet. Affinion Group also has a growing loyalty solutions operation which administers points-based loyalty programs. Based in Norwalk, Conn., Affinion Group has approximately 3,600 employees throughout the United States and in 13 countries across Europe.