Sticky fingers for pickups

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It should come as no surprise that the full-size pickups built by the “Detroit Three” – Ford Motor Co., General Motors, and Chrysler Group LLC – are prized by vehicle thieves, if only because demand for aftermarket parks to keep older pickups running is on the upswing.

Harking back to an earlier post, recent analysis by Polk and Colorado-based consulting firm IHS found that the average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. now stands at a record high of 11.4 years, based on review of over 247-million U.S. car and light truck registrations earlier this year.

For passenger cars, that “average age” reached a record high of 11.4 years, while the average age of light trucks also increased to a record 11.3 years – trends both Polk and IHS  expect to continue.

While that “aging vehicle” trend is expected to spur replacement demand and thus sales of new trucks, it’s also spurring demand for replacement parts, too – and what better way to obtain a whole slew of replacement parts than stealing old pickups to “chop up” for their components.

“Indeed, the market for parts for older vehicles (and some newer) is definitely a driver of many thefts—no question about it,” Frank Scafidi, director of public affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) told me by email. “That people have held on to their vehicles for longer periods of time is certainly a factor.”

He added that the NICB’s annual Hot Wheels report, which lists the top 10 most stolen vehicles in the U.S. , found that in 2012 full-size pickups from the “Detroit Three” were the third, fourth, and seventh most stolen vehicle type in the country. Take a look for yourself below:

1.  Honda Accord                                              (58,596 units stolen)

2.  Honda Civic                                                   (47,037)

3.  Ford Pickup (Full Size)                              (26,770)

4.  Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)                    (23,745)

5.  Toyota Camry                                              (16,251)

6.  Dodge Caravan                                            (11,799)

7.  Dodge Pickup (Full Size)                          (11,755)

8.  Acura Integra                                               (9,555)

9.  Nissan Altima                                               (9,169)

10. Nissan Maxima                                          (6,947)

Scafidi added that in previous Hot Wheels reports, rankings were determined based on the most stolen model year vehicle within each vehicle make and model – meaning only one make/model/year would appear on the top 10 list, even though other model years of the same vehicle would have earned a position on the list. 

NICB also decided to change that up in order to highlight what it called “significant theft numbers” of certain models instead of focusing on just one or two desirable makes year after year.

Indeed, older Honda Accords and Civics were by far the most stolen models in 2012, with the 1996 Accord led the list with 8,637 thefts. In fact, Honda Accords and Civics account for the first 16 spots on the most stolen list and all are 1990-2000 models. 

Still, NICB stressed that although the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is predicting a 1.3% increase in 2012 vehicle thefts over 2011—reversing an eight-year trend—the overall vehicle theft picture is still positive.

The peak year for vehicle thefts was 1991 with over 1.66 million units stolen, according to NICB, but if the FBI’s preliminary vehicle theft estimate holds, only roughly 724,672 thefts will have occurred in 2012: a national decrease of over 50% since 1991 with many states seeing even better numbers, the group said.

That’s some good news, at least.

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While we’re on the subject of pickup trucks, though, let’s pause for a moment and give a shout-out to Floyd Pullin of Confluence, PA – a 102-year-old dude who, according to Ford, is possibly the OEM’s most loyal customer as he’s been an exclusive Ford owner since the 1920s – back when Henry Ford himself still ran the company.

Floyd recently took delivery of a new 2013 F-150 STX – the 16thFord vehicle he’s purchased during his lifetime. In a nice touch to thank him for his loyalty (and help celebrate his birthday) Ford named him “Honorary Ford Trucks President” for a day.

On top of that, The OEM and the Thurby Riverside Ford dealership in Confluence organized a birthday party in Floyd's honor; a party that even included a video from Ford employees wishing him a happy birthday.

Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday, if you ask me. And let me add in my own "happy birthday" to you Floyd here as well.

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