MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Car thieves aren't picky on who they target, and a new report just released from the National Insurance Crime Bureau is surprising some drivers in Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach ranks as No. 30 on the annual report, which compiled 2011 car theft statistics and compared it to other towns across the country. The NICB claims more than 1,000 cars were stolen last year.
And police admit it happens a lot - especially around this time of year.
"You'll see there's more vehicles in town, so there's more opportunity for vehicles to be stolen," Lt. Doug Furlong, of the Myrtle Beach Police Department, said.
Police are using tools out on the street like license plate readers to track down stolen vehicles in Downtown Myrtle Beach. Some drivers, however, were surprised when they learned what kind of vehicles are the most popular to steal.
"You'd think someone would want something newer than used," Rick Sarver, of Myrtle Beach, said.
Officials say it's the exact opposite. Thieves often target older cars because they are easier to steal, easier to salvage and sell for quick cash at scrap shops.
"Once you lock your doors on your car, it makes it a lot harder for criminals to break in and take your car. It cuts off the fuel system to your car and won't start without the particular key that's programmed to the car," Jeff Foxworth, service manager at Hyatt Buick GMC, said. "Newer cars - the parts don't fit as many cars. The older parts - they can use them in a lot of different ways."
Furlong says double-locking your door is the most important precaution you can take to avoid becoming a criminal's next victim. He says something as simple as parking away from side streets in a well-lit area could make all the difference.
"You can have alarms installed, and they're pretty sophisticated now-a-days, but they can be beat," he said. "So a lot of it still goes back on the owner of the vehicle themselves, and just keeping their vehicle secure in general."
Florence also made the NICB's annual list at No. 81.