August 16, 2014 Leave a comment
We recently purchased a car for the first time since 2012. Bought a 2012 Kia Sedona (replacing a 2000 Mazda MPV). So far, I love it– more room, more power, and yet better mpg than the MPV. And the kids are so happy to finally have a minivan with automatic doors (judging by the elementary school carpool drop off, you’d think we were the last people on the planet without).
Anyway, given that our two cars were from 2000 and 1998 (my Corolla is still going strong) I still had nice, normal-sized key. I must say, I’m not at all a fan of the monstrosity that turns on the Kia. I do like to keep my key chain minimalist. That said, I learned from the Upshot this week that the monstrous key has been amazingly effective in reduce auto thefts:
The most important factor is a technological advance: engine immobilizer systems, adopted by manufacturers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These make it essentially impossible to start a car without the ignition key, which contains a microchip uniquely programmed by the dealer to match the car.
Criminals generally have not been able to circumvent the technology or make counterfeit keys. “It’s very difficult; not just your average perpetrator on the street is going to be able to steal those cars,” said Capt. Don Boller, who leads the New York Police Department’s auto crime division. Instead, criminals have stuck to stealing older cars…
You can see this in the pattern of thefts of America’s most stolen car, the Honda Accord. About 54,000 Accords were stolen in 2013, 84 percent of them from model years 1997 or earlier, according to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a trade group for auto insurers and lenders. Not coincidentally, Accords started to be sold with immobilizers in the 1998 model year. The Honda Civic, America’s second-most stolen car, shows a similar pattern before and after it got immobilizer technology for model year 2001.
Funny to think my 98 Corolla is now a much greater theft risk than the 2012 Kia. Seems like crime and technology are somewhat of an arms race, it’s pretty cool when technology just wins– at least for the short term.