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Dude, Where's Your Car?

The National Insurance Crime Bureau's list of most frequently stolen cars in 2007 was released this week, and, once again, I feel robbed.

You see, I'm still bitter (unhealthy-bitter, some might say) about my 1994 teal-blue automatic four-door Honda Accord with power locks and steering and a Lyle Lovett CD leaning on the cup holder. (Actually, for complete accuracy, make that my former 1994 teal-blue automatic four-door Honda Accord with power locks and steering and a Lyle Lovett CD leaning on the cup holder.)

I'm not just mad about being robbed. (Back story: Four years ago, I walked outside and, without irony, asked, "Dude, where's my car? Seriously," followed a few weeks later by, "Dude, there's my car!" and then "Dude, that's my car?" I call it my "Dude" series.)

I'm miffed about being robbed of a car that was not even that coveted by car thieves.

So every year since then, I check the NICB "Hot Wheels" report to see whether the '94 Accord has even cracked the top 10. I figure, if my former car (may she rest in peace) makes the top 10 of most-stolen cars, at least I won't feel like the car-filching thugs simply swiped my ride as a consolation prize.

Well, the 2007 list is out, and once again, the '94 Accord is absent from the Top 10 list. Another year, another diss.

Dear '95 Civic owners: Lock up!
According to NICB's findings, if you drive a 1995 Honda Civic, you should probably bookmark this page. Your ride is No. 1 on the 2007 most-stolen list, and the 2006 most-stolen list, for that matter.

Don't worry, you'll have company at the police station. As you fill out the report, you'll be sitting next to the former owners of other popular 1990s-vintage cars. In order of popularity to perps, the other most coveted rides in '07 were:

2. 1991 Honda Accords
3. 1989 Toyota Camrys
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Series Pickups
5. 1994 Chevrolet C/K 1500 Pickups
6. 1994 Acura Integras
7. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickups
8. 1994 Nissan Sentras
9. 1988 Toyota Pickups
10. 2007 Toyota Corollas

Why are these cars so attractive to crooks? They're popular, and they've got longevity. How many times have you put your Camry key into someone else's car? There are a lot of them out there, making them an easy mark that blends into traffic when a crook is on the lam.

But most of all, for the enterprising thief, these cars can make a killing on the secondhand-parts circuit. According to NICB, these models provide the best prices on spare parts.

Grand larceny: Grand lessons
Although preliminary findings of the FBI's Uniform Crime Report indicate  that car theft is on the decline (perhaps nearly 9% less in 2007), this is no time to get lazy about locking your doors. Safety first, people!

If nothing else, consider the financial implications of having to replace your automobile. Next to your home, your car is probably the most expensive item you own. Not only that, it's your transportation, your freedom.

Lest you get too attached, however, remember that one thing your car is not is an investment. (If it was, it'd sure be lousy, rapidly losing value over time.)

Make your ride look less attractive to thieves with these theft deterrents from the NICB:

Lock the doors and take your keys: Common sense is the cheapest defense. If your car comes with an anti-theft device, remember to engage it each time.

Be obvious: A visible (The Club) or audible warning device might make a crook think twice about taking your wheels -- or at least look elsewhere for a mark.

Stop them in their tracks: A LoJack (Nasdaq: LOJN  ) , kill switch, fuel cut-off, smart key, and poison needles embedded into the driver's seat (I need to trademark that idea) prevent your car from even starting.

Follow them home: GPS or radio-frequency technology can help law enforcement locate and track your ride.

Or you could just get a 1994 teal blue four-door Honda Accord -- and hope that someone's '95 Civic is parked next to it when someone wants to steal a car.

Since 2004, Dayana Yochim has diligently used The Club. Even when she idles in traffic. The Fool's disclosure policy is like The Club for truth.


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