NICB’s “Hot Wheels” vs. the Highway Loss Data Institute’s “Theft Claims Rate” Reports

Each year the NICB publishes a report that identifies the 10 most stolen vehicles in each state and the nation. Formally known as “Hot Wheels,” NICB’s report examines all vehicle theft reports taken by law enforcement around the nation and entered into the FBI-managed, National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

In preparation for Hot Wheels, an NICB analyst will collect all the valid theft reports from NCIC for a given year. The analyst then distills a list of the most stolen vehicles in the nation. It’s a simple equation: a vehicle theft report in NCIC gets counted as a vehicle theft by NICB.

Whether or not a stolen vehicle is insured makes no difference in the statistical tally produced by NICB. Indeed, most vehicles on the road today are not covered for theft (as the vehicle ages and decreases in value, many drivers choose to drop their theft coverage). So any analysis of stolen vehicles that uses only insurance claims as a dataset will produce a vastly different report.

Our good friends at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) have been developing their own list over the past several years and the recent headlines generated by their report caused some confusion. The HLDI news release carried the headline, “Ford F-250 has highest theft rate of any 2010-12 vehicle” and then went on to say, “The Ford F-250 has replaced the Cadillac Escalade as the favorite target of thieves, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) reports. New anti-theft technology on the Escalade, as well as its waning popularity, are two likely reasons the luxury SUV has fallen from first to sixth place in the ranking of vehicles with the highest rates of insurance claims for theft.”

Herein lies the confusion. Many of the media headlines said something like, “Ford Pickup Truck Tops Among Thieves,” which is true only if you’re looking at insured vehicle theft claims for 2010-2012 models year…not necessarily actual thefts of the vehicles…and not thefts of uninsured vehicles.

To make it on the NICB most stolen vehicle list, a vehicle has to be stolen—the entire vehicle. To be included in HLDI’s analysis, an insurance theft claim must be filed, but the theft item could be a mirror from a Ford F-250 and nothing more. Get the picture?

So context is important.

As for our Hot Wheels report for 2012, it is being prepared and should be released in the next few weeks.