Fleets that use light-duty commercial pickups take heed – thieves want your trucks.

Chevrolet full-size pickups and Ford F-150 trucks rank sixth and tenth, respectively, on the top-ten list of most stolen vehicles in the United States, according to the latest statistics gathered by the Palos Hills, IL-based National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

The not-for-profit NCIB, which fights auto theft on behalf of roughly 1,000 insurance companies, added that about 30% of the top 50 most commonly stolen vehicles are pickups, sport utility vehicles, and mini-vans. Included in that tally are Chevy’s full-size extended cab pickup which is the 22nd most popular vehicle to steal. Toyota’s pickup line ranked 25th, Dodge Ram pickup, was 30th, Ford Econoline van, 39th, and GMC full-size C/K pickup ranked 46th.

The NCIB warned that overall vehicle thefts are increasing. According to the latest FBI numbers, vehicle theft increased 4.2% during the first six-months of 2002 -- continuing an upward trend after over a 30% decline in the 1990’s. Over 1.2 million vehicles worth more than $8.2 billion dollars are stolen nationwide each year, the NCIB said, with recovery rates falling from about 80% in the early 1990s to 62% in 2001.

Many of those un-recovered vehicles are shipped overseas or driven across international borders, said NICB President & CEO Robert Bryant. “People who live in communities near ports and international borders need to pay special attention to protecting their cars and trucks from thieves,” he stressed. The group estimates that approximately 200,000 stolen vehicles are illegally exported out of the country each year. “The drop in recoveries of stolen vehicles indicates growth in well-organized, professional theft rings who direct stolen vehicles to ‘chop shops’ which dismantle them for parts or transport them out of the country,” Bryant said.