Pickup trucks are not popular just among Alabama motorists; they're also popular with thieves.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 1997 Chevrolet and 2000 Ford pickup trucks rank first and second respectively among the state's top 10 stolen vehicles.
NICB spokesperson Frank Scafidi said one reason pickup trucks may have topped the list of stolen autos is due to the large number of rural areas in the state and the utility the vehicles offer. But then again, maybe not.
"Really, it's what's in the eye of the thief," Scafidi said. "If somebody's going out to steal a vehicle and wants whatever they can get their hands on to turn over to someone else or sell the parts off of, they're not too picky for the kind of ride that they steal."
The 1996 Honda Accord, 1997 Toyota Camry and 1989 Chevy Caprice rounded out the top five vehicles the state's car thieves targeted last year. Because coded keys are making newer model vehicles harder to steal, thefts of late model cars continue to trend.
A nonprofit organization based in Illinois, the NICB works closely with law enforcement and insurance companies to fight insurance fraud. The reports compiled by the NICB are based on vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center.
Nationally, there were 737,142 vehicles reported stolen in 2010 with 10,600 of that number being from Alabama, Scafidi said.
While he said there were no available statistics in terms of the recovery rates of vehicles reported stolen to the Opelika Police Department, Capt. Bruce DeLong said that the condition some of them are recovered in conditions that range from being out of gas to being defaced and stripped of accessories.
Auburn Police Capt. Tom Stofer said the Auburn Police Division averages about a 35 percent recovery rate of vehicles reported stolen in its jurisdiction. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said the county has averaged about 70 stolen vehicles a year over the past five years, ultimately recovering about 50 percent of them.
Whether a would-be thief is looking to take your car or score valuables inside it, DeLong said that in most cases it all boils down to simply being a crime of opportunity.
"Many times somebody will only check cars until they find one that's unlocked," DeLong said.
Lee County's sheriff has a simple piece of advice for all vehicle owners when it comes to reducing the chances of having their vehicles burglarized or stolen: "Lock the doors and take the valuables out and that will help prevent crimes from occurring," Jones said. "It's a proven fact."
For a closer look at the NICB's 2011 "Hot Wheels" report for Alabama, visit nicb.org.
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