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Classic Used Ford Thunderbirds Popular with Thieves

Tips for Protecting Your Used Thunderbird from Being Stolen

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Classic Used Ford Thunderbirds Popular with Thieves

1978 Ford Thunderbird is the most stolen of the used Thunderbirds.

(c) Ford

The National Crime Insurance Bureau is out with statistics and research on the most popular used Ford Thunderbird among car thieves. But a recent model Thunderbird? Don't worry because it has less appeal to car thieves.

According to the NICB, the most common used Ford Thunderbird stolen in its 50-year-production span was the 1978 Ford Thunderbird. Have one parked in your driveway? You might want to keep an eye on it.

But first a little look back at the history of the Ford Thunderbird. As the NICB recalls, the first Thunderbird rolled off Ford's Dearborn, Mich., assembly line on Sept. 9, 1954, and went on sale on Oct. 22, 1954, as a 1955 model." (Make sure you click on the link. It's a stunner.)

"The Thunderbird was an instant hit, and sales grew steadily. The Thunderbird went through several design changes over its life, and production halted after the 1997 model year. Production resumed in 2001 with a look reminiscent of its 1955 ancestor and lasted through the 2005 model year when the Thunderbird finally ended its run with a 50th anniversary limited edition. "

Frankly, it used to be a beautiful car until its reincarnation in 2001 when it was brought back to life like Frankenstein's monster. There's a reason it stopped production four short years later. Nobody really liked this hulking behemoth that was a pale shadow of the original in terms of appeal and driving characteristics.

OK, so this is a look back at the 1978 Ford Thunderbird and other used Ford Thunderbirds and their appeal to car thieves. Let's look at how the NICB determined the car theft statistics. It reviewed Thunderbird theft data from 1981-2011 and identified 179,625 theft records. Although theft records exist from 1955, only theft records from 1981 on are included in this report. That was the year when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required vehicle identification number (VIN) standardization.

In 1981, a total of 9,914 Thunderbirds were reported stolen, which was the year the most were stolen. For the 30-year span reviewed by NICB, the 1978 Thunderbird was the most stolen model year with 14,288 thefts reported. Top 10 Model Year Ford Thunderbird Thefts

  1. 1978: 14,288
  2. 1979: 12,100
  3. 1977: 11,972
  4. 1984: 10,390
  5. 1985: 9,185
  6. 1986: 8,958
  7. 1980: 7,302
  8. 1988: 6,981
  9. 1983: 6,869
  10. 1987: 6,510

Here is some additional tidbits of information about the Ford Thunderbird, according to the NICB. During the 30-year period from 1981-2011, a total of 179,625 Thunderbirds were reported stolen in the United States and Puerto Rico. From 1955-2005, a total of 4.3 million were sold. The year with the most U.S. sales was 1977 with 304,430 sold. The year with the fewest Thunderbird sales was 1998 when just 2,243 units were sold.

By the way, in case you're wondering how safe it is to own a Ford Thunderbird, here is a breakdown of the Top 10 states for stolen Thunderbirds. Anybody else surprised that California leads the way?

  1. CA: 27,521
  2. TX: 14,771
  3. NY: 13,338
  4. FL: 9,794
  5. MI: 8,335
  6. IL: 8,090
  7. NJ: 5,456
  8. PA: 4,944
  9. MA: 4,864
  10. OH: 4,476
Protecting a Ford Thunderbird Should their popularity among car thieves stop you from buying a used Ford Thunderbird? That would be ridiculous. However, there are steps you can take to protect this and any other used car. The NICB has suggestions for preventing a used car from being stolen. Here's a summary of some of those tips:
  1. Use common sense. Take the keys. Sounds basic but many stolen used cars are crimes of opportunity. Also, don't forget to lock your doors and close your windows.
  2. Warning device The About.com website on crime and punishment suggests steering wheel, column or brake locks. This will stop the casual thief. It won't deter those who plan on just towing the used Thunderbird where it will be possible to remove those devices undetected.
  3. Immobilizing device Your best bet with an older used Ford Thunderbird like the 1978 model is going to be a fuel-shut off switch. It doesn't allow the car to be driven.
  4. Tracking device OK, this won't so much prevent your used Ford Thunderbird as help you recover it (unless you plaster warning stickers all over the exterior). From what I've read, LoJack is going to be your best bet because the company works directly with law enforcement.

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