Wranglers, Tahoes Taken as New York Leads in Missing SUVs

The New York metropolitan area leads the U.S. in unrecovered thefts of sport utility vehicles, which are broken down for parts or packed in shipping containers and exported to other countries.

Thieves stole 2,438 SUVs from Jan. 1, 2008, through June 30, 2012, in the region, the most thefts in the U.S., and 725 were never recovered, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said in a report issued today. That’s nearly four times as many missing SUVs than in any other U.S. metro area. The region includes New York City, northern New Jersey and Long Island.

Consumer demand for SUVs makes them lucrative for car thieves who target densely populated metro areas because of the access to luxury vehicles and proximity to major ports. General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Tahoe and Chrysler Group LLC’s Jeep Wrangler were the least-recovered SUVs, the report shows.

“If there’s a lot of interest in a car, thieves like it,” said Frank Scafidi, a spokesman at the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “People aren’t going to go through the trouble of exporting things that won’t bring a high premium on the other end.”

Chrysler’s Jeep Wrangler is a top seller for the automaker that set a record for global deliveries in 2012 as demand strengthened in the U.S. and nearly doubled in Asia.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach region in Florida followed New York with 193 unrecovered thefts, and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, California, area came in third with 157. New York State had the most unrecovered thefts with 480, followed by Texas with 395 and California with 339.

There were 19,961 SUV thefts nationwide, according to the report, and approximately 15 percent of those were unrecovered. California led the way in total SUV thefts with 3,003 in the period. Texas followed with 1,826 and Florida was next with 1,784.

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