The Investigators: Hot Wheels - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Hot Wheels

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TC) - The old car you drive every day could be the beat up ride you use to get by on the road. But many do not realize that an older car is now more at risk to be stolen than a newer model.

Imagine a flashy new Cadillac Escalade with all the bells and whistles sitting right next to a 15 year old wrecked Honda. Which one do you think a car thief would go after? Here's a hint: it's not the 80-thousand dollar car.

Janet Garner, a Honda owner, certainly didn't guess the right answer: "In 1994 when I bought the car, I just liked the style of it. Had no idea 15 years later it would be on the most stolen list."

That's right. The old Honda is the car that puts a twinkle in the eye of thieves. In fact, the Honda Accord topped the list of the National Insurance Crime Bureau Hot Wheels auto theft report for last year. And the Honda is one of the top stolen car brands in Shelby County.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Department also lists the Dodge Intrepid, Ford Taurus, Chevy Impala, and Chevy Silverado in a list of the top 10 most stolen vehicles in Shelby County within the past year.

Danny Pankey is another person who learned the hard way how car thieves think. His 1992 Chevy Silverado, which once belonged to his father in law, was stolen from a hospital parking garage in Memphis. Pankey said, "We forgive the person for stealing but at the same time we would like the property back."

In Olive Branch, Mississippi, thieves are taking GM vehicles made during the 80s and 90s because they have an easy to crack steering column.

Thirteen cars were stolen in six weeks time.

This raises an importnat question: Why lift an old hooptie?

Max Glenn, a mechanic, has the answer: "The parts will interchange. Like the 94's they'll interchange up to 96, 97."

After thieves steal one of these hot wheels, they get all kinds of parts, taking from the engine to the transmission to the catalytic converter to the rear end. The reality is, it's cheaper to go steal a car than buy the parts.

David Steward of Honda Haven says, "Just the fact that there are so many of them produced, ease of availability of replacement parts, and they last forever."

The older model hot cars were big sellers a few years ago. Dealers sold a lot of them, a fact that can be confirmed by just looking around when you drive down the road. You'll see them. And now they need replacement parts.

Thieves also like these cars because they don't have theft proof technology like newer cars. New cars have computer chipped keys and they can't be hot wired like the older models.

Just last week someone tried to jimmy open the door of Honda owner Janet Garner's car and take her favorite ride. She hopes this car with 130-thousand miles will still be parked in her driveway when it reaches 200-thousand miles, but her make and model is the nation's most popular stolen car.

Still, all hope is not lost. Motor vehicle theft was down nine percent this past year in Shelby County.

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