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How experts say we make it easy for thieves to steal our cars

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Experts told ABC 6/FOX 28 how people make themselves a target for their cars to get stolen (WSYX/WTTE)

As the sun beat down on the parking lot's hot asphalt, Eric Seebach walked with us car to car, spotting ways to get in.

As a Supervisory Field Agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, it's his job to think like thieves do.

"I want to keep my car cool but my windows are open," said Seebach, as we approached a car with the windows cracked. "That makes it easier for me."

Non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute have issued a list of the most and least stolen cars across the country. Modern-day muscle cars Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger take the top two spots on the list for the highest claim frequencies for whole-vehicle theft. Experts who created the list said their strong engines and price make them attractive targets.

On the low end, BMW's 3-series 4-door sedan, and Tesla's Model S and Model X rank as the least stolen with experts saying electric cars tend to be safer since many are kept plugged in for charging.

Seebach said thieves look for the path of least resistance when casing cars, and if they see something inside they can quickly snatch, it becomes a target.

"Here you’ve got something, a nice brown leather bag sitting in the front seat," Seebach pointed out as we meandered through the lot. "A thief sees that, especially in a car like this (a new Chevy Camaro), and thinks this person’s got money."

On top of the list from the IIHS and the HLDI, Seebach said cheaper cars, including think cars like Honda Accords, Civics, and Nissan Altimas, are also stolen often. Seebach said it's mainly because they can be worth more in parts on the black market than as a whole. Pickup trucks and their tailgates are also a hot commodity, especially in the Midwest.

The NICB reports Ohio ranks 4th in the country with the most amount of cars stolen with the keys inside with 12, 259 reported thefts from January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2018.

Seebach said agents advise taking a layered approach to protecting your vehicles.

  1. Use common sense; don't put expensive things in your car in plain sight or park in the middle of nowhere.
  2. Take advantage of visual and sound alarms. Make it known your car is protected and being watched.
  3. Steering wheel locks or kill switches physically stopping thieves can help if you still become a target.

If you're curious about ultra-luxury vehicles, think Ferrari, Maserati, etc., Seebach said those are actually a bit safer than most cars. They're too flashy and obvious in traffic to steal and make a clean getaway.

Here's a list of the vehicles that are stolen the most and least.

TOP 10 MOST STOLEN VEHICLES

  • Dodge Charger HEMILarge 4-door car544
  • Dodge Challenger SRT HellcatLarge 2-door car529
  • Infiniti Q50 4-doorMidsize luxury car525
  • Infiniti QX80Large luxury SUV422
  • GMC Sierra 1500 crew cabLarge 4-door pickup393
  • Dodge ChallengerLarge 2-door car358
  • Nissan MaximaMidsize 4-door car351
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cabLarge 4-door pickup320
  • Chrysler 300 4WDLarge 4-door car293
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4-door long-wheelbase 4WDVery large luxury car291

TOP 10 LEAST STOLEN VEHICLES

  • BMW 3-series 4-doorMidsize luxury car4
  • Tesla Model S 4WDLarge luxury car11
  • Tesla Model X 4WDLarge luxury SUV12
  • Chevrolet Equinox 4WDSmall SUV15
  • Buick Encore 4WDSmall luxury SUV15
  • Subaru Legacy with EyeSightMidsize 4-door car17
  • GMC AcadiaMidsize SUV19
  • Subaru Forester with EyeSightSmall SUV20
  • GMC Acadia 4WDMidsize SUV20
  • Volkswagen New BeetleSmall 2-door car21

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