The Secret to Car Theft Decline: Smart Keys


Engine immobilizers that make it impossible to start a car without the ignition key have caused a 96 percent reduction in car theft in New York over the past 25 years, reports the New York Times. In 1990, the city had 147,000 reported auto thefts, one for every 50 residents; last year, there were just 7,400, or one per 1,100.

The Times says the Honda Accord, America's most stolen car, illustrates the decline. Honda began equipping Accords with engine immobilizers in 1998. There were 54,000 Accords were stolen in 2013, and 84 percent of them were built in 1997 or earlier. Old cars are easier to steal, but they're not worth much, so they are used for parts or sold for scrap. California has the country's highest auto theft rate, double the national average and five times New York State's. The thefts there are often linked to Mexican organized crime, and many of the stolen vehicles are smuggled out of the country.

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