In some ways, the melding of consumer technology into today's lineup of vehicles have stymied would-be car thieves, preventing them from making off with cars parked on the side of the road or stationed in users' driveways. But in others, automotive interior tech features have opened a new window that criminals are exploiting, a new report suggests.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau is out with its latest "Hot Wheels" report, detailing which cars with 2015 model years were stolen the most last year. Topping them all was the Nissan Altima, with over 1,100 reported stolen from January to December. Just behind it was the Chrysler 200 at 1,069 thefts, followed by the Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, and GMC Sierra. Rounding out the list of 2015 automobiles that were the most successfully targeted included the Dodge Charger, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Cruze.
You can download the entire report here.
While older vehicles were stolen far more frequently – as an example, over 52,200 1996 Honda Accords were lifted last year, more than any other model type – most of the 2015 models that experienced a high rate of theft have technology on board designed to thwart theft, noted Joe Wehrle, NICB President and CEO.
"Older vehicles still dominate our Hot Wheels most stolen list, [but] the number of late model vehicles with anti-theft protection on the list goes to show that technology isn't foolproof," Wehrle explained. "Criminals are doing their best to defeat anti-theft technology through hacking and other means while, at the same time, manufacturers and others are working to improve security."
Internet capability providing new entry point for theft
Because cars now come with internet connectivity, hacking attempts are gaining security experts' – and the public's – attention. Several automakers have partnered with the U.S. government to raise awareness about what consumers can do to avoid being targeted. Manufacturers are also looking into different strategies to make it harder for thieves to be successful. They've fallen behind the eight ball in some cases. In a recent poll conducted by KPMG, 85% of car manufacturers say they've been affected by a hacking attempt in the last two years. This may explain why 70% of car owners are worried they'll be affected by a breach.
"Cars and trucks have evolved into highly complex computers on wheels, with increased connectivity that presents some real and important cybersecurity risks, the most significant of which is safety," warned KPMG's Automotive Sector Leader Gary Silberg. "Unlike most consumer products, a vehicle breach can be life-threatening, especially if the vehicle is driving at highway speeds and a hacker gains control of the car."
Lawmakers introduce Spy Car Act
So long as car owners are aware of the risks and implement what NICB experts describe as a "layered approach" to automotive security – like always locking the doors, using audible alarm systems, and installing immobilizing devices like kill switches – consumers can cut their risk dramatically. But several lawmakers want to provide an added sense of reassurance with legislation that would mandate the development of security features that automakers would have to satisfy before vehicles are mass produced. As reported by USA Today earlier this year, the Spy Car Act is sponsored by U.S. Senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Road users are being asked to read the legislation and inform their senators about whether they should get behind the law so that it can be implemented .