Our Big 3 Makes The Hot Wheels List

February 2022 Column, Feature Brady L. Kay

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2022 issue.

It brings me great joy to see my youngest child collecting Hot Wheels cars like I did when I was his age. I’m not sure you could credit those miniature die-cast toy cars that were first introduced by Mattel in 1968 with starting me on the path to my love of diesels (probably had more to do with my dad working as a mechanic before my teenage years), but I know Hot Wheels played some type of a role. My son has quite a collection of vehicles as well as a list of which cars and trucks he would like to get next.

However, there is a different “hot wheels” list that I’m not nearly as happy about. It’s the annual report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NIBC) of American’s top ten most stolen vehicles, and Ford, Chevy, GMC and RAM pickup trucks all made this “hot wheels” list. 

For the second year in a row, the Ford full-size pickup was the model most targeted by thieves, followed by the Chevrolet full-size pickup, which supplanted the formerly second-place Honda Civic. Is it wrong that I find some pleasure in Chevy beating Honda in anything, even on a most stolen vehicle list? Yeah, I didn’t think so.  

Vehicle thefts jumped 26 percent in 2020 compared to the year before, and that is a shocking statistic. Blame it on the pandemic, an economic downturn, law enforcement realignment, depleted social and schooling programs, etc., but in too many cases owner complacency contributed to the problem as well. Simply put, as truck owners we’re leaving our vehicles unlocked and making it very easy for thieves.   

Thefts for all models in the top 10 were up in 2020 compared to 2019, but only Ford, Chevrolet, and GMC full-size pickups (and the Honda CR-V) saw double-digit theft increase percentages.

In diving into this list a little more, I found it fascinating to note the model years that were targeted the most. If you’re guessing the trucks most stolen were the newer or more recent models, you would actually be wrong. It was the more “vintage” pickups on the “hot wheels” list and we’re talking 14-year-old trucks and [older]! Now even though there is no breakdown between diesel and gas versions on these full-size trucks, it is interesting to note that if the trucks were diesels, the most coveted by thieves were before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) got heavily involved in the diesel industry.

Just a coincidence? Maybe, but it at least deserves to be mentioned as a possibility for why the pre-EPA trucks are being targeted.

Starting with 2008 model year diesel trucks, manufacturers were required to include emission controlled systems to help with pollution. The most popular trucks stolen in 2020 according to the NIBC was the 2006 Ford, 2004 Chevy, 2005 GMC and the 2001 Dodge RAM. The other six of the top 10 most stolen vehicles were Japanese cars, by the way.
As a diesel pickup enthusiast who loves to see older trucks built up through aftermarket parts and accessories to become better than a new one rolling off the assembly line today, this makes perfect sense. Of course, what we should be focusing on is protecting an investment that for most of us is second only to our homes. Use common sense and lock up your truck, add an alarm and/or another aftermarket locking system and consider investing in some type of a tracking device. Basically, take the steps needed to keep your truck from being counted as one of the vehicles stolen on next year’s “hot wheels” list.

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