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DES PLAINES, Ill., August 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released Hot Wheels −its list of the 10 most-stolen vehicles in the United States. The report examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and determines the vehicle make, model and model year most reported stolen in 2011.
Each year, NICB reviews all NCIC vehicle theft records to produce its national and state lists of the 10 most-stolen vehicles. Hot Wheels is the only report that examines all theft data without regard to a vehicle's insured status − if a vehicle was reported stolen to law enforcement, it is captured in this report.
The top 10 places were evenly split in 2011 with five belonging to foreign brands and five to U.S. automakers. Most popular models among the domestic brands were Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet pickup trucks each holding one spot with the Dodge Caravan and Ford Explorer rounding out the domestic models.
Once again, 2011 is on track to continue the national vehicle theft decline. Preliminary 2011 FBI crime statistics indicate a 3.3 percent reduction from the 737,142 thefts recorded in 2010. Vehicle thefts have not been this low since 1967.
"While overall thefts continue to decline, we are seeing a trend toward increases in the thefts of late model vehicles − ones that are theoretically harder to steal due to sophisticated key code technology," said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.
"Today's vehicle thieves are typically professional criminals who have figured out how to get the key code for a specific vehicle, have a replacement key made, and steal the vehicle within a matter of days. We are aware of nearly 300 thefts that took place in the first three months of this year in which we believe replacement keys using illegally obtained key codes were used to steal the vehicle. We are working closely with our member companies, law enforcement, and the vehicle manufacturers to track these illegal key code transactions and stop the thefts or recover the stolen vehicles before they can be resold here or shipped out of the country to be sold overseas."
Even one theft is one too many if it happens to you. NICB urges motorists to follow its "layered approach" to auto theft prevention. By employing these simple, low-cost suggestions, people can make their vehicles less attractive to thieves.
NICB's four layers of protection are:
Common Sense: Lock your car and take your keys. It's simple enough, but many thefts occur because owners make it easy for thieves to steal their cars.
Warning Device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another item that can ensure that your car remains where you left it.
Immobilizing Device: Generally speaking, if your vehicle can't be started, it can't be stolen. "Kill" switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys are among the devices that are extremely effective.
Tracking Device: A tracking device emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ "telematics," which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.
Considering a used vehicle purchase? Check out VINCheckSM, a free vehicle history service for consumers. Since 2005, NICB has offered this limited service made possible by its participating member companies. Check it out at: www.nicb.org/vincheck.
Anyone with information concerning vehicle theft and insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword "fraud" to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting our website at www.nicb.org.
About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $339 billion in insurance premiums in 2011, or approximately 80 percent of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 94 percent ($156 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.
* This report reflects stolen vehicle data reported to NCIC in 2011. No further filtering of information is conducted (i.e., determining the total number of a particular make and model currently registered in the U.S. for comparison purposes). For purposes of this report, full size pickups include half ton and larger capacity models for all makes.
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ZD Net put it perfectly: "It's cool to have a keyless BMW until you no longer have a keyless BMW."
Unfortunately, that's the exact predicament a BMW 1 Series M owner found themselves in after their $46,000 car was stolen by hackers in under 3 minutes from their own driveway.
In a post in the enthusiast forum 1Addicts, the victim posted the above video and a description of how the thieves were able to so easily steal this sophisticated and seemingly technologically sound vehicle.
"[They accessed] the BMW OBD port in the footwell by breaking the glass, reaching in and using a device to reprogram a blank key fob. The car was simply then unlocked and pushed off the drive and driven away."
Keyless vehicles are pretty simple. The owner has a unique key fob that, when recognized by the car, allows the driver to start the engine with the push of a button, instead of the turn of a physical key.
But a keyless vehicle's OBD port, or on-board diagnostics port, can be exploited by thieves. If a thief can access the OBD port by either using a RF jammer or simply breaking a window to get in the car, he can program a blank key fob to be recognized by the vehicle, allowing him to start it and drive off.
You can see how quickly this can be done in this YouTube video.
Clearly, the thieves in this video knew what they were doing, and it highlights a troubling trend in the United Kingdom. There has been a noticeable spike in keyless BMW thefts and it has some owners really worried, especially since the German automaker has acknowledged the problem, but doesn't seem to be offering any solutions, publicly stating that theft is simply something premium automakers have to deal with.
"The battle against increasingly sophisticated thieves is a constant challenge for all car makers. Desirable, premium-branded cars, like BMW and its competitors, have always been targeted," BMW told Jalopnik.
With many cars no longer requiring physical keys, the sophisticated thief can fairly easily circumvent alarm systems and drive off. Concerned keyless car owners can prevent this by looking into disabling the OBD port (a BMW owner provided an example of how to do this here). You can enable it if you need to take your car in for maintenance.
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