Hot wheels: Pickup trucks and Hondas targets for thieves in the Mid-South

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Almost nightly we're telling viewers about a vehicle that was stolen or carjacked in the Mid-South.

We looked at the numbers about the makes and models of the cars that were taken and compared them to national trends.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau says Memphis ranks 85th out of 382 locations in the country for vehicle theft hot spots, with 4,169 thefts in 2016.

Leroy Jackson loved his pickup truck.

"It was a 2015 Dodge Ram," he said. "It was my silver bullet. It meant a lot to me."

That silver bullet was stolen one rainy summer day.

Jackson says it all started when he saw a vehicle that was pulled over, so he stopped to try and help.

"I'll just give them a jump. I popped my hood, got out and before I knew it another dude come up behind me and had his gun. He said, 'You know what this is. Get to steppin'. So I got to steppin'."

After reporting it to police, his stolen truck went into a National Crime Information Center, so law enforcement could be on the lookout.

Every year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau then looks at that data.

They see where the hotspots are throughout the country and what vehicles are stolen the most.

Right now, data from 2016-2017 is still being tabulated.

Here's the list for the hot wheels in Tennessee:

Late 1990s models of a Chevy pickup, Ford pickup and Honda Accord are the most stolen vehicles.

But a newer model of the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry also made the top 10 list.

Arkansas sees similar vehicles in it's top 10 — with Chevy, Ford and Dodge pickups in the top three.

Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry's made it on to the list for the last three years.

In Mississippi, a 2005 Chevy pickup takes the top spot, followed by early 2000s Ford pickups and Toyota Camrys.

But notice number six, a 1997 Honda Accord.

"The cars we see that are stolen the most every year continue to be the old 1996 and 1997 Honda Accords and Honda Civics. You'll have, maybe, 5,000 stolen in a year. There's still a ton of them out there on the road, even though they're over 20 years old now," said Roger Morris with the The National Insurance Crime Bureau.

It was around the late 1990s when the manufacturers started adding more anti-theft technology.

Recent research shows a 2016 Honda Accord saw fewer than 400 thefts nationwide. But just as technology advances, so do criminals.

Many newer model vehicles use keyless fobs, but even those are susceptible to a thief essentially hacking into a car and getting inside without breaking a window.

Now, criminals are using other tools to mimic a keyfob.

A demonstration was used to show the crime playing out. A man gets out of his car and locks it using the keyfob.

Another man in a blue jacket uses a relay box to intercept the fob's code.

That code is then sent to a second person who has another, smaller box than then takes over the role of the keyfob.

He's easily able to get in the vehicle and drive away.

So how can you protect yourself?

It's often as simple as being aware and taking notice if you see someone hanging around you or your vehicle in a parking lot.

In Jackson's case, as much as loved his silver bullet, he says nothing is worth his life.

"My life meant more, because I have three kids and six grandbabies. So, I don't worry about it."


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