The Ottumwa Courier

December 22, 2012

Ottumwa goes against national car theft trends

CINDY TOOPES AND LAURA CARRELL
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — In southeast Iowa, car thieves would rather grab cars with the keys already in it instead of taking a certain model.

That’s the word from Lt. Tom McAndrew of Ottumwa Police Department.

“The national thing that’s going on most often is people going to chop shops for resale,” he said Friday afternoon. “But that’s not what’s going on here.”

McAndrew said he wasn’t aware of anyone targeting certain cars for theft.

Lori Mason, an agent with Farmer’s Insurance, agreed, saying she’s seen no claims for stolen vehicle in almost 3 years.

“We see lots of issues with no insurance, but not stolen vehicles. It’s not a high crime area for that,” she said.

The conversation started after the National Insurance Crime Bureau listed its Hot Wheels report, the top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in the U.S. based on figures from 2011.

Hot Wheels collects data about vehicles reported stolen to law enforcement regardless of insurance status, Based on its figures, thefts nationally fell 3.3 percent from the number taken in 2012, hitting the lowest point since 1967.

Lynn Diveley of the Ottumwa Police Department also works with information about various property seized by OPD officers. She checked her lists and didn’t note any outstanding models.

“We’ve taken in a fair amount of Taurus vehicles and Mercury Sables, Chevy S-10s, Ford Rangers and Grand Prixs,” she said.

To make sure your vehicle doesn’t find itself on the stolen vehicle list, there are a few steps you can take. While they seem like common sense, Mason says they’re the key to keeping your wheels.

“First off, don’t leave your keys in the car,” she said.

Make sure all alarms are in use and if you have an OnStar type system, use it. It can track where your vehicle is if it’s been taken.

Mason also suggested keeping vehicles in a locked garage, lock the doors and take the keys with you.

“And park in a well-lighted area. There’s a better chance your neighbors might see something,” she said.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles nationwide in 2011:

1. 1994 Honda Accord

2. 1998 Honda Civic

3. 2006 full-size Ford pickup

4. 1991 Toyota Camry

5. 2000 Dodge Caravan

6. 1994 Acura Integra

7. 1999 full-size Chevrolet pickup

8. 2004 full-size Dodge pickup

9. 2002 Ford Explorer

10. 1994 Nissan Sentra