Toyota's Prius hybrid-electric vehicle has a very low theft rate in the U.S., according to a recent report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
There have been 2,439 Toyota Prii stolen in the U.S. between Sept. 4, 2000 and June 30, 2012, NICB stated in a press release. The non-profit organization, based west of Chicago in Des Plains, Ill., has members in the P&C insurance industry and aims to prevent and detect insurance fraud and vehicle theft.
One of NICB’s predecessor organizations is the National Automobile Theft Bureau, which develops theft databases for use by the insurance industry. NATB merged with the Insurance Crime Prevention Institute in 1992 to formn the NICB.
NICB’s Nov. 14 report on vehicle theft looks at the number of 2008-2010 Prii reported sold by Toyota to the number reported stolen to the FBI's National Crime Information Centre (NCIC). It compares those figures to the total number of 2008-2010 vehicles reported stolen to NCIC and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics' data on new retail sales of vehicles, including passenger cars, motorcycles and trucks.
"On average, all 2008-2010 model year vehicles were found to have a theft rate of 1 in 78 vehicles being reported stolen," the report stated. "The Toyota Prius, however, had a much lower theft rate with 1 in 606 Toyota Prii being reported stolen for model years 2008-2010.
The theft rates for the Prius was 0.22% for the 2008 models, 0.07% for 2009 and 0.2% for 2010, according to the report. The rates for all vehicles were 1.8%, 1.2% and 0.75% for 2008, 2009 and 2010 models respectively.
"Our theft reports do not provide in depth analysis of causal factors for thefts but there are only so many reasons vehicles are stolen in the first place," NICB public affairs director Frank Scarfidi wrote in an e-mail to Canadian Underwriter.
"Those reasons are consistent, for the most part, when it comes to older, more plentiful makes and models. For example, we know that one of the reasons that Accords and Camrys and other makes are stolen so frequently is because they are more valuable in pieces than they are intact."
However, the Prius has not been around long enough, and there is not enough demand for Prius parts to motivate thieves to steal them.
Scarfidi wrote that causes for Prius thefts could include “bragging rights” for thieves, the fact that public transportation is not available or the drivers left their keys in running cars.
"At the same time, thieves might look at a Prius, a rather unattractive vehicle, and think, 'No way am I going to be seen tooling around in that thing' and not even bother to steal one," Scarfidi wrote. "Some thieves may have a certain pride in their ‘work’ and stealing a Prius, as unattractive as it is, is beneath them. It's only a theory but it is a valid as any other at this point in the Prius life cycle."
Of 2,439 Prii stolen between 2000 and the first half of this year, only 80 were still active thefts, meaning the recovery rates is 97.6%, NICB stated.