Best car to drive to Mexico to dissuade theft? -- old Honda probably not the best choice

In the show today (Nov-12), a listener wanted to know of a cheap and presumably reliable car that she could drive to Mexico with little fear of it being stolen. You recommended a Honda Accord wagon. While that may indeed be a practical choice, it may not be the best choice.

For the same reasons that it is a practical choice, old Honda Accords are the most-stolen car in the US, and have been on the top-ten list for quite a while. The 1994 Honda Accord is currently at the top of the list.

Worse still for your advice, many of those stolen Accords are sent to Mexico intact or as parts.

Driving an Accord to Mexico would thus seem to be a prime target – saving the thieves the risk and trouble of stealing it and illegally exporting it to the US.

Its a common misconception that you can’t sleep in a sedan. Most people think you have to have at least a wagon. You can fold down the seats of most sedans and sleep back there. I have slept in the back of my Saturn and I’m 6’ tall.

I’d take a Pontiac Aztec.

Actually, the studies which list the most frequently stolen cars always fail to take into account the number stolen PER number that exist. So, when you look at those lists you see Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and Honda Accord because there are more of them. I would bet my life that insurance companies use these “facts” to sell comprehensive insurance to more people. News articles use those “studies” because they are more sensational and apply to more readers.

When you look at number stolen per number in existence, you get Audi S8 as number 1, followed by Ford Shelby GT, BMW M5, Honda S2000… you get the idea.

Honda Accord is listed as the 102nd most stolen vehicle. The study was published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using model year 2009 vehicles. It is quite difficult to find these useful studies (they are not conducted every year) and I couldn’t find one for other model years of Honda Accord, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the older models followed a similar formula. And these are US thefts, of course things could go differently in mexico.

To summarize, those studies are TOTALLY bogus.

LOL I just learned that the study which names Honda Civics and Accords at the top of the top 10 most stolen cars list was conducted by the “Insurance Information Institute”.

How about a Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix? They are hatchbacks(can put the seats down to sleep - that’s why I got mine) AND it has an electrical outlet where she CAN plug in her microwave.

Since Volkswagens are built in large quantities in Mexico, a used older VW would be good choice. You would have good parts availability as well. Mexican mechanics do know their way around VWs!

@Mousse – I do agree that it is bogus is how the studies are marketed by the insurance companies-- as if you need to put LoJack in your Accord, which is ridiculous and does nothing but scare people and jack up insurance rates as you imply. There is safety in numbers, for sure.

What would be interesting to see is the # of cars stolen within various metropolitan areas sliced by demographic profiles.

@Docnick – Yup – VW seems like a logical choice, but maybe not for the ‘sleep in my car’ requirement.

@kenP Also, come to think of it – if someone has an older cheaper non-luxury car, they are probably less likely to invest in anti-theft devices so that could skew the statistics as well. I didn’t put an alarm on the rusty crumply '88 camry station wagon I had. If I could afford a luxury car, I’d probably get every anti-theft thing there is. Someday when I get a Miata – my dream car (not exactly luxury I know) – I have this whole plan to take out the radio and put a bunch of duct tape on the top to make it look like its been cut already, lol!

When you look at number stolen per number in existence, you get Audi S8 as number 1, followed by Ford Shelby GT, BMW M5, Honda S2000... you get the idea.
But a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry is still a desirable car to steal because it’s easy to get rid of, and there is a big market for parts. I think the list you’re going from is not giving thefts per total number in existence, but thefts of new cars per number produced in that particular year. But what you’re failing to mention is that the high rate per number produced for the Audi in 2009 amounts to a grand total of 2 vehicles stolen! Same thing with the Shelby GT, which had a whopping 5 vehicles stolen, according to the article I found (However, I thought the Shelby GT was only produced in 2007. Makes me wonder if they aren’t confusing it with the GT500KR, which I read had 571 produced for 2009, compared to the 581 that this article claims for the ’09 Shelby GT).

A Ford Escort

@jt1979 Yes, the list is for the cars produced in that year. I said: “The study was published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using model year 2009 vehicles.” and “I couldn’t find one (study) for other model years” I should have been more clear and I should have added a link to the data, sorry.

I think you are right about the GTs, the production numbers are so close they have to be talking about the GT500KR.

You are correct that a very low number of those cars were stolen but that amounted to a high percent of # stolen per # produced. I do have to say, it’s difficult to go by such low thefts because there would be a higher margin of error with that data.

2 out of 227 S8s amounts to 8.81% stolen.
5 out of 581 GT500(KR?)s amounts to 8.60% stolen.
2 out of 264 M5s amounts to 7.58% stolen.
432 out of 66,856 Chargers amounts to 6.46 stolen.

For the Honda Accord: 297 out of 315,205 amounts to 0.94% stolen.

The Accord was ranked 102nd most stolen (per # produced), a far cry from the “top ten” list (reported by the Insurance Information Institute) regurgitated by all those kinds of articles. The linked article claims the 2009 Camry “was the most stolen passenger vehicle from a purely statistical standpoint, with 781 copies swiped” Semantically correct but totally misleading. Also, the NHTSA data seems to indicate this might actually be the Solara. Please let me know if I got that wrong.

781 out of 447,882 amounts to 1.74% stolen.
The “Camry/Solara” was ranked 50th most stolen. That a ton though, maybe it refers to Camrys and Solaras?

The NHTSA Data

@ Mousse

Your math is all off by a factor of 10. 2 of 227 is 0.881%; 5 of 581 is 0.861%, and so on. The percentages are very low, which is why they quoted them as the number per 1,000 that were stolen in the article I linked to.

I don’t think these vehicles with incredibly low production numbers should even be considered here. I still think though, that driving one of the cars with high numbers that are stolen is likely more dangerous, just because thieves know that there’s a big market for them and they’ll be easy to move. If you’ve got a rare car that gets stolen, it’s probably either stolen by a high-end car thief (not your average thief), or by someone who’s just stealing it to take it for a joyride.

…maybe it refers to Camrys and Solaras?
The Solara is a Camry. The car is the Camry Solara; it’s a two-door version of the Camry sedan.

Looks like driving a Charger is a bad idea. Although, since it is a Dodge, maybe so many are stolen because people just leave their keys in them and hope somebody takes it! :slight_smile:

LOL sorry I do that all the time, haha. I go off by whole magnitudes! I was off by a factor of 10 on ALL the numbers to include the Camry and Accord. Sorry I was very wrong. Even by shifting the decimal point to the left one space, we get .881%, .860%, .758%, .646% -vs- .094% for the Accord and .174% for the Camry. They are still ranked the same and have the same % of thefts relative to one another.

I would feel better driving an Accord or Camry because there are several Audis, Mercedes, Kias, Fords, Chryslers, etc between the Accord & Camry and the top of the most stolen list. Did you look at the list? There are many other models with production # s in the thousands and tens of thousands with proportionately higher theft rates than the Camry or Accord. Personally, If I drove the 102nd most stolen car I wouldn’t react to a news article that said my car was “most stolen”.

Thanks for explaining the camry thing. I knew the Solara is technically called the “Camry Solara” but I didn’t know whether they regarded it as a sub model to the Camry or as a different model somehow. As you say, it is just a two-door camry so certainly is is a Camry! :slight_smile:

There are a plethora of factors affecting why a car is stolen. As you pointed out, a market for parts is a good one. Another thing to consider is that a vast majority of car thefts happen in poorer or “bad” areas (Fresno, Modesto, Vallejo, Bakersfield CA for instance).----> The List If there are 200 of a car, they probably aren’t going to be seen in those places. That sort of person probably lives in a gated community, has an ALARM, and has friggin NSA watching the car with a satellite. Ferrari, Lamborghini and Lotus had 0 lefts for instance. I don’t think they stopped in Fresno and left the key in the running car while they ran into the gas station to get a pack of cigarettes. I see people leave their P.O.S. type cars unlocked ALL the time.

It occurred to me though, we are talking about reported thefts. Those cities I mentioned on the top 10 list have a very high concentration of illegal aliens. If an illegal alien had their car stolen, I doubt they’d report it! (Although I suspect they are doing more of the stealing rather than getting stolen from) And they are the ones more likely to be driving those old camrys for instance.

Drive what you have to drive…Car theft is not that big a problem if you take some simple precautions…One of the BEST seems to be one of those bars that locks across the steering wheel, making it impossible to turn…Most hotels and large shopping centers offer secure parking…

I can only tell what worked with my son’s car in college parking lots. Don’t wash it. Remove all identifiying decals. Do not under any circumstances fix dents unless they contribute to driving problems. Buy an older Hyundai or Chevy Prism…grey in color. When we oiled body to prevent rust, we left dripping stains that accumulated dirt and added to the ugly look. Leave nothing in side that could attract anyone. A back seat filled with laundry might help Hide stuff there. He was very fastidious about the mechanical maintenance. It always ran well and started up easily, for quick get aways.

Dagosa nails it. I live in Mexico and my car is usually covered with dirt from the quarries in our town. I do not wash it before going through the dangerous border area. The fact it’s a ten year old Sienna helps, too. Yes, I use a Club

irlandes makes some good points. A car that no one wants would be a car that is less likely to be stolen. However, is that your only concern? Personally I would also be worried about reliability. I don’t have the numbers, but I’d bet far more people end up having car problems than having a car stolen.

If you are fearful of having your car stolen, then I would suggest contracting your insurance company. Do they offer coverage including supplemental coverage to cover housing etc in the case of theft.

In my experience, I would worry at least as much about road hazards, poor fuel quality etc.