Mercedes Leads U.S. in Luxury-Car Theft as NYC Targeted

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Vehicles sit on display at the Daimler AG Mercedes-Benz booth during the Washington Auto Show in Washington, D.C. Close

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Vehicles sit on display at the Daimler AG Mercedes-Benz booth during the Washington Auto Show in Washington, D.C.

Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz vehicles were the most sought-after luxury brand among U.S. car thieves from 2009 through 2012 as the New York City region had the greatest number of thefts, an insurance-industry group said.

More Mercedes C-Class cars, a total of 485, were stolen during the period than any other luxury model, according to a report released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Two other Mercedes models, the E-Class and S-Class, ranked in the top 10.

“Mercedes has been around forever,” Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the Des Plaines, Illinois-based NICB, said in a phone interview. “It’s really ‘the car.’ They sell a lot of them.”

The New York City area, including Long Island and northern New Jersey, reported 806 thefts in the period out of a nationwide total of 4,384, the NICB said, citing data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Los Angeles region was No. 2, followed by Miami.

The C-Class, including 2-door coupes and 4-door sedans, is the best-selling Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. and worldwide. The starting price of a C-Class sedan is about $35,350, compared with about $92,350 for an S-Class, according to the company’s website.

“The more desirable the vehicle, the more attractive the vehicle is to thieves,” Donna Boland, a Mercedes spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “A significant number of Mercedes-Benz models that are reported stolen are recovered, some very swiftly, thanks to our mbrace system, which includes a stolen vehicle tracking feature.” Mbrace is an in-car communications system that connects to the Internet.

BMW, Infiniti

The second-most-stolen luxury car was Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW 3 Series, followed by Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti G Series, the NICB said.

California had the highest number of luxury thefts of any state at 1,063, followed by Florida with 674. The Los Angeles area had 491 thefts.

“We have such a car culture here in LA,” Commander Andrew Smith, spokesman at the Los Angeles Police Department, said in a telephone interview before the release. “There’s a lot of high-end motor vehicles. You would expect there to be more stolen vehicles in a place where the population is bigger.”

The number of luxury-car thefts has decreased in Los Angeles by almost 50 percent since 2005 as security technology improved, Smith said.

“You used to be able to steal a car with a screwdriver,” Smith said. “Now with chips, computers and alarm systems, it’s much more difficult to steal a car. The technology has been really helpful for us.”

The recovery rate of all luxury cars reported stolen in the period was about 84 percent, the study found. The vehicle with the highest recovery rate was General Motors Co. (GM)’s Cadillac CTS at about 91 percent. The Mercedes S-Class model had the worst recovery rate at about 59 percent, the NICB said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Chaykowski in San Francisco at kchaykowski2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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