Kent’s most wanted: the top cars targeted for theft

Dave Yochum

Honda Civics are the most vandalized cars in the area, according to 2006 City of Kent police reports.

Police have received at least seven reports of Civics with smashed windows, stolen BMV tags or stolen electronics since the beginning of 2006. The relatively inexpensive Pontiac Sunfire and Dodge Caravan models have also been popular targets for thieves, each with more vandalism reports than any other vehicle except the Civic. The Civic and Sunfire car models are among the most common vehicles in Kent State parking lots; however, the Civic has been targeted because of the ease with which the vehicle can be broken into.

“Someone broke the lock on my Civic, found the spare key, and then drove my car around,” senior education major Stephen Shoff said. “I had about $50 and a Sony head-unit stolen, but the funny thing was they returned the car to the same spot after they were done.”

Though thieves broke into Shoff’s Civic by using a screwdriver to punch out his door locks, there are numerous ways to break into Civics or steal entire body panels from the car.

Tim Poth, a customer at car accessory store Rim and Trim on state Route 43, demonstrated the different ways people could break into his own Honda Civic. He showed how even though his car may appear secure, thieves could be inside his vehicle in less than 30 seconds.

As he broke into his own car, Poth explained how thieves will watch a vehicle and research the exact measurements of bolts used on a certain model car. After they get the right tools, Poth says vandals quickly go to work – stripping cars in a matter of minutes.

Poth said the market for stolen car accessories is lucrative, especially on Internet sites such as eBay and at vehicle customization shops. He admits to stealing a few car accessories himself when he was younger, but also offers advice on how to avoid having a car broken into.

“Don’t bump (playing your stereo so loud that everyone knows you have a valuable system), and don’t put stickers on your windows advertising what’s inside the car,” Poth said. “Those are ‘steal me’ stickers – if you’re bragging about it then it’s something worth taking.”

John Phillips, manager of Rim and Trim, said alarm systems help deter would-be vandals. Both he and Poth use expensive alarm systems on their own vehicles, but Phillips said an effective Hornet alarm system can be purchased for as little as $179.

Poth also believes window tinting could help hide valuable items inside vehicles, though Phillips said he thinks tint only draws more attention to cars.

Along with Phillips, Lt. Michelle Lee of the Kent City Police advises drivers to park near other people or in well-lit areas to help prevent vandalism. To prevent personal items like CDs, purses or stereos from being taken out of cars, Lee says use common sense.

“Lock the doors and don’t leave anything in plain view that you don’t want stolen,” she said. “If you have anything of value, the best place to put it would be the trunk.”

CDs and stereo equipment have been targeted the most by thieves in the area, while the most common exterior car damage has been smashed windows, broken side mirrors, slashed tires and body panel damage.

Contact transportation reporter Dave Yochum at [email protected]