Honda Civics appear to be the vehicle of choice for thieves. Stony Brook University, SUNY at Farmingdale and Suffolk County Community College have all had Honda Civics stolen from their campus parking lots this semester. The university police have discovered that these thefts are part of a countywide vehicle theft pattern.
Robert Lenahan, chief of the university police, said that Honda Civics are targeted because they are easy and quick to steal. He said that the department has discovered that the vehicles were stolen so that the suspects could remove the parts from the vehicles and use them on their own vehicles or to sell them to others.
A “Hot Wheels” report released in July 2008 by the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that the 1995 Honda Civic is stolen more often than any other car in America. This is becoming evident after four early model Honda Civics were stolen from the university parking lots this semester.
Robert Oswald, the commanding officer of the Suffolk County Police Department, said that Hondas Civics have been continuously stolen in Suffolk County for about 10 to 15 years. He said that these were the primary concentration of the auto squad in Suffolk County. They would break up car theft rings where people would steal Honda Civics and soup-up their own cars with the stolen parts.
The thieves target railroad station, mall and college campus parking lots because they are large. Oswald said that the schools were targeted over the winter because the piles of snow that were pushed in the middle and the corners of the parking lots affected visibility.
“They had the cover of the snow piles and they didn’t feel like they were out in the open so much,” Oswald said.
The recent thefts have Stony Brook students who own Honda Civics worried.
When asked how he felt after he heard about the thefts, Christopher Lang, a commuter student who owns a Honda Civic, said he was “a tiny bit nervous, but I’ve heard about lots of car thefts since I came here eons ago. You just have to hope chances are in your favor.”
Lenahan said that the police department has increased their patrols —including uniform and plain clothed officers — in campus parking lots to prevent any more thefts. There have not been any recent reports of stolen vehicles since the department beefed up its patrols.
Though there are no more snow piles and the university police have stepped up their patrols, there is still a chance that the theft will continue. Oswald suggested that those who park in the lots should not leave anything valuable in their cars, park by a light pole if they are parking at night and to not park in the far end of the lot where their car is more secluded.
The auto thefts section of the police department has been successful over the last decade and Oswald is hopeful that the success will continue. One way of doing so is by examining cars that have been caught during a drag race. Cars have vehicle identification numbers on every part that are unique to each car. The squad impounds the cars and can tell if they are stolen by looking at the VIN numbers.
The auto thefts section has had success in catching the thieves in the past but it is still an ongoing issue.
“You bust one and another one pops up because it’s like a subculture of these groups of people that have Hondas and race them illegally,” Oswald said.