Insurance Organization Reports Large Increase in Thefts of Motor Vehicles in Mexico

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Vehicle thefts have reached a record level in Mexico, with almost 83,500 cars and trucks stolen during the 12-month period that ended in July. The Asociacion Mexicana de Instituciones de Seguros (AMIS), which released the data in late August, said total thefts were about 13% higher than they were in the period between August 2009 and July 2010. But the rise in auto thefts has not deterred Mexican consumers from acquiring new automobiles. The consumer-research organization J.D. Power said that Mexicans are projected to buy 874,000 new cars in 2011, a slight increase from the 816,000 bought in 2010. This is good news for domestic auto dealers, which had seen sales plummet in recent years. But the Asociacion de Distribuidores de Automotores (AMDA) said auto sales through the first half of the year remained slow even with the projected small increase.

Four states account for more than half of total thefts

Mexico state accounted for the highest percentage of thefts during the 12-month period, with 20% of the total, followed by Nuevo Leon with 16%, the Federal District with 15%, and Jalisco with 8%. The three states and the Federal District are home to the country's three largest metropolitan areas: Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. The Monterrey metropolitan area--along with the nearby communities of Guadalupe and San Nicolas de los Garza--recorded the greatest increase in vehicle thefts. Other municipalities with high theft rates include Torreon in Coahuila state, Culiacan in Sinaloa state, and Ecatepec de Morelos and Nezahualcoyotl, both in Mexico state.

Roughly half the thefts nationwide were nonviolent, meaning that the vehicle was taken while the owner was not present. But there were just as many cases in which the vehicles were taken by force or threat. The highest number of violent thefts occurred in Sinaloa, Zacatecas, and Durango states, three states where drug cartels have been most active.

Authorities were able to recover about 30,000 of the stolen vehicles or slightly more than one-third of the total. The recovery rate is on par with the 12-month period the year before, the AMIS statistics indicated.

The vehicles targeted most frequently by thieves were automobiles manufactured by the Japanese automaker Nissan, particularly pickups and the Tsuru and Sentra models. More than 14,500 Tsurus were stolen between August 2010 and July 2011, a 6% increase from the previous 12-month period, said the AMIS.

Thieves also appeared to also target vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen, including the Bora and Jetta models.

Sales of new vehicles projected to increase from 2010

While Japanese cars are in strong demand by thieves, Mexican consumers also have a preference for vehicles manufactured by companies from the Asian country. The recent J.D. Power study, which projected an increase in domestic sales of motor vehicles, said buyers are not targeting Nissan vehicles but appear to have a preference for vehicles manufactured by Suzuki, Honda, Mazda, and Toyota.

The J.D. Power projections, which anticipated sales of about 874,000 new vehicles on the domestic market, represented good news for the beleaguered auto-distributors industry, which had experienced a decline in sales because of the downturn in the global and Mexican economy SourceMex, July 6, 2011. …