Texas Leads U.S. in Pickup Theft as Crooks Target Border

By Dan Kraut September 11, 2014

Texas has the most pickup truck thefts of any U.S. state, as criminals target towns where the vehicles can most easily be taken over the Mexican border.

Texas endured 2,130 thefts in the 48 months ended Dec. 31, according to a review from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which analyzed vehicles only in the 2011 to 2013 model years. That compares with 1,676 in California, the most populous of the 50 U.S. states, the NICB said in a statement today on its website.

The regions where the trucks were least likely to be recovered were mostly near the Mexican border, led by El Paso, Texas, where 74 percent of the missing vehicles hadn’t turned up by March 31. About one-sixth of all stolen pickups in the U.S. in the period were missing.

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“These vehicles may have been targeted by sophisticated organized-theft rings which dismantle stolen vehicles for parts,” switch their identification numbers and resell the trucks, or export them to other countries, the NICB said in the statement. The proximity of the Texas communities and San Diego to the Mexican border “may account for their high unrecovered rates.”

Florida ranked third for pickup thefts followed by Oklahoma, Georgia and Arizona. New Jersey and New York didn’t make the top 10, though they ranked first and second in a separate NICB report in June for the must unrecovered sport utility vehicles as criminals targeted luxury models like those made by Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz.

Top Market

Most of the stolen pickups were full-size models like General Motors Co. (GM:US)’s Chevrolet Silverado or Ford Motor Co.’s F-Series, according to the report. Texas is the nation’s top market for the vehicles, with more large pickups sold there in 2012 than in California, Oklahoma and Florida combined.

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The NICB, based in Des Plaines, Illinois, is an industry group dedicated to detecting and preventing fraud and auto theft. The largest U.S. car insurers are policyholder-owned State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the Geico unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (A:US) and Allstate Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Kraut in New York at dkraut2@bloomberg.net