Every year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) ranks the most stolen vehicles in the U.S. as well as the most (and least) theft-happy metro areas. Here are some  theft stats from 2011.

Most stolen vehicles in 2011

1) 1994 Honda Accord
2) 1998 Honda Civic
3) 2006 Ford Pickup (Full size)
4) 1991 Toyota Camry
5) 2000 Dodge Caravan
6) 1994 Acura Integra
7) 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full size)
8) 2004 Dodge Pickup (Full size)
9) 2002 Ford Explorer
10) 1994 Nissan Sentra

Cities with the most auto thefts (per capita) in 2011

1) Fresno, California
2) Modesto, California
3) Bakersfield-Delano, California
4) Spokane, Washington
5) Yakima, Washington
6) San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, California
7) Stockton, California
8) Anderson, South Carolina
9) Vallejo-Fairfield, California
10) Visalia-Porterville, California

Cities with the fewest auto thefts (per capita) in 2011

1) State College, Pennsylvania
2) Elmira, New York
3) Harrisonburg, Virginia
4) Ithaca, New York
5) Utica-Rome, New York
6) Altoona, Pennsylvania
7) Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin
8) Glens Falls, New York
9) Logan, Utah and Idaho
10) Wausau, Wisconsin

What’s noteworthy about this year’s car theft report?

While lists can give us a good overview, they’re made 10 times better with a little analysis. So let’s boil it all down to a few notable trends.

New hot spot arrives, old one cools off

If you follow these reports every year, you notice a lot of recurring cities. For example, 2011’s 4 worst areas were the exact same as 2010’s. But this year’s list does have a couple of notable changes. First, a new locale cracked the top-10 worst group: Anderson, South Carolina — the lone East-Coaster, no less.

On the flip side, in a true underdog story, Laredo, Texas, has gone from the single worst city for auto theft in ‘09 all the way down to 53rd in 2011! A welcome influx of police funds (plus, we assume, elbow grease) has helped Laredo crack down. Hopefully this provides a bit of silver lining for current Hot Spots.

Thieves are cracking modern key codes

In years past, having a newish car could provide some peace of mind. Back in 2006, for instance, only one car made after 2000 appeared on the most stolen cars list. Why? The key code technology (aka smart keys), which can immobilize the engine if the wrong key is used, made for a solid defense against theft of these newer rides.

This list, however, includes 4 post-2000 models. Older cars are still more vulnerable, but thieves are learning to outsmart smart keys. According to the NICB, thieves now know how to get the code for a specific car, make a replacement key, and make off with it.

That’s why outfitting your car, no matter the model, with a good antitheft device makes more sense than ever. It could even score you a vehicle safety discount (which never hurts).

Auto theft and your car insurance

Preliminary reports from the FBI tell us that there were about 712,817 car thefts in 2010 — the lowest number of thefts since 1967.

That said, more than 700,000 thefts is still a lot. If you live in a trouble area or drive an oft-stolen vehicle model, you might consider adding comprehensive coverage to your auto policy for the most assured protection.

Of course it never hurts to learn more about auto-theft prevention either. Check out our insight on how to protect your car.

Related links

The full NICB report
The most stolen cars in 2008

Around the nation

about Alex

As copywriter for Esurance, Alex had professional experience in everything from film to literature to (thanklessly!) correcting the grammar in friends' emails. As a fervent Minnesota sports fan, he spends most of his non-writing time gently weeping into cereal bowls.