When you check out the list of most stolen vehicles in Houston you typically see heavy-duty trucks, usually Ford and Chevys. But during the month of October Honda cars took the top spot. Police say close to 200 Hondas were reported stolen, and they have a good idea as to why those cars are popular with thieves.
"People have gone out and taken some older cars, turned around and upgraded the motors and transmissions for street racing."
That's HPD Auto Theft Investigator Jim Woods. He says Honda has turned out a lot of cars over the years and that means there's a lot of available vehicles. Woods says motors burn out during the wear and tear of street racing, so thieves will go looking for a vehicle they can use for replacement parts. Cars that are modified can also wind up stolen.
"So if you have somebody that's got a car that they've turned around, and made some modifications to, they could have put quite a bit of money into making that motor a little bit nicer. And performance-wise it could have a lot more horsepower than what it was originally designed for."
And while cars top the list of stolen vehicles, Woods says trucks are still popular targets. He says stolen trucks are often taken to border areas where they're used to transport illegal immigrants. They's also used to smuggle drugs.
"Ford and Chevy and Dodge make a great product that allows them at that point, they can then drive them off-road if they're followed by police trying to make an attempt to stop them. They just drive it off-road and drive as far back as they can before everybody bails out."
Noticeably absent from Houston's stolen-car list are high-end vehicles like Mercedes and BMW. Woods says the reason for that is that luxury cars aren't sold in the same volume as less-expensive vehicles. Also manufacturers have made those cars harder to steal.
"It doesn't mean that they can't be stolen. It's not normally the car that we're seeing. I think the number one stolen vehicle, last year across the nation, was a 1994 Honda or Acura product."
So what should a driver to do if they own a vehicle that's popular with thieves? Woods says the best thing you can do is stop using your garage as a storage unit.
"You've got your garage filled with a couple of thousand dollars of miscellaneous property. Get it out, put it someplace else, and put that $20, 000 or 30,000 vehicle in the garage and lock it up at night."
And if you don't have a garage, Woods says it a good idea to add an extra anti-theft product, such as an alarm or tracking device.