Washington State has become a hotbed for auto thefts

From the insurance industry's viewpoint, the state of Washington is a hotbed for auto thieves. Experts say much of the auto theft that takes place in our state is by organized theft rings that are looking to steal cars for the parts.

The hottest wheels are 1990s models that sport the go-to logos for endurance and dependability. Topping the list is the the 1992 Honda Accord, followed by the 199 Honda Civic, the 1995 Acura Integra, the 1990 Toyota Camry and the 1996 Subaru Legacy. Rounding out the top ten most stolen vehicles in Washington are the 1992 full size Chevy Pickup, the 1994 Nissan Sentra, the 1995 Saturn SI, the 1991 small size Chevy pickup, and the 2003 Toyota Corolla.

"Those cars are not only easier to steal than cars that are more recently made with more built-in anti-theft technology, but they also have a ready outlet for the parts," said Karl Newman of the Northwest Insurance Council.

For the second year in a row, the hottest wheels in this state are more likely to be stolen in Spokane. Spokane ranks number four in the nation for auto theft. Yakima jumped from 10th place to number five in the country. The Greater Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue area comes in at number 12 nationwide. Newman says thieves like Seattle's proximity to the freeway, to the ports and to the international border with Canada. And once again auto theft records reveal car owners continue to give thieves an opening.

"One of the simplest things you can do to prevent theft is to lock your doors and windows, park in well-lit areas, park ina safe area, make sure your take your keys with you and don't leave things in the vehicle that would be attractive to thieves," Newman stressed.

1990s models dominate the list because they don't have key code technology. But the National Insurance Crime Bureau warns professional criminals are paying insiders for certain key codes and making replacement keys. Now key code thefts are on the rise. The NICB says it's aware of nearly 300 auto thefts in the first three months of 2012 , where illegally obtained replacement key codes are believed to have been used.

Experts recommend four ways to protect your car: Common sense, a visible or audible warning device, an immobilizing device that cuts the ignition or fuel, and a tracking device.

More information is available here and here.