DaimlerChrysler’s car popularity, and design vulnerabilities the automaker is improving, has them jamming police lists of stolen vehicles, says the Detroit News. Despite years of pressure by the insurance industry, Chrysler’s steering columns remain easy to break and feature ignition systems that can be started without correct keys. In recent weeks, a rash of thefts has prompted police even in notoriously safe places to warn residents to tuck Dodges and Jeeps into garages or block them into driveways. In 2005, Chryslers accounted for six of the top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in Michigan. Nationally, Hondas and Toyotas lead the way. “Thieves steal what they know, and right now, they know a lot of Chrysler products are easy to take,” said Terri Miller of an insurance industry-funded cooperative called Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT).
The problems come because ignitions that start Chrysler’s most popular pickups and SUVs only when correct keys are used are $200 options. About 50,000 cars a year are reported stolen in Michigan, fifth highest in the nation.