Rising Car Parts Costs Make Your Ride Sweeter Theft Bait

2016 Nissan Altima

CARS.COM — It's never been truer that your car may be worth less than the sum of its parts. And the value of common collision-repair parts is driving a jump in car thefts, says insurance industry watchdog the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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Sophisticated technology and costlier parts, such as LED lights and alloy wheels, have caused the cost of collision repairs to shoot up even for a minor fender bender. That has fueled the black market for those parts, leading car thefts to rise again last year by 4 percent, according to preliminary FBI data.

"On today's cars and trucks, the parts are often worth more than the intact vehicle and may be easier to move and sell," said Jim Schweitzer, senior vice president and COO of the bureau. "That's why we see so many thefts of key items like wheels and tires and tailgates ... there's always a market for them."

NICB says that many stolen vehicles are recovered but minus rims, light assemblies and other key parts. Others disappear in chop shops and are sold piece by piece. And the biggest demand is for more numerous mainstream vehicles, not luxury cars.

The NICB found that just 15 common collision repair parts on a 2016 Toyota Camry — the most-stolen 2016 car — were worth a total of nearly $11,000. That included $1,642 for the four wheels and $1,434 for the four door shells.

The 2016 Nissan Altima was even higher, with just 14 common parts worth more than $14,000. Each headlight assembly weighed in at $1,013, with the four wheels at $1,745.

Meanwhile, a 2016 GMC Sierra pickup had 20 standard components worth more than $21,000, including $1,144 for each headlight assembly, $1,133 for the front bumper assembly, $995 for the rear bumper and $724 for the tailgate.

The NICB tally looked at the cost of original equipment replacement parts for its top 10 most-stolen 2016 models. It took the values from its database of more than 24 million vehicle damage appraisals for insurance claims in 2016 and 2017. It looked at common collision repair parts such as bumper covers, doors shells, fenders, hoods and headlights, excluding big-ticket items such as the engine and transmission.

Find out more in the NICB video below.

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