Style, Not Alarms, Stops Car Thieves

July 7, 2010


A new study in the Netherlands suggests that choosing an unpopular color for your car can be as effective at stopping car thieves as using an expensive alarm system. The study discovered that thieves are more concerned about the resale value of the cars they steal than the fear of being caught. So choosing an unpopular color for your next car--a color that effectively lowers the resale value--can be a deterrent from enterprising car thieves.

Most Popular Colors
Car buyers in the Netherlands have a strong preference for three colors: black, blue, and silver/grey. These account for almost 80 percent of new car sales there in recent years. The study found that there is a direct link between the popularity of the color of your car, and the probability of it being stolen. In other words, thieves are stealing cars with the most popular colors because they are easier to resell for a higher price.

Back in the U.S.
The popularity of new vehicle colors varies by country. According to DuPont’s latest Color Popularity Report, the most favored colors for new cars in the U.S. are white, black, and silver. If the Netherlands study holds true here, buying a new vehicle with any of these colors will increase your chances of it being stolen.

According to Ben Vollaard of the European economic website VOX, the study found that the reverse is also true. Choose an unpopular color and the chances of your car being stolen go down. There are two universal, unpopular colors no matter which country you live in: yellow and pink. Choose one of these two colors and it’s like having an expensive alarm system on your car that provides an incentive for thieves to look elsewhere.

Red is a Relative Color
Red used to be a more popular color in Europe, but since the mid-1990s it has fallen out of favor with the car buying public there. That’s not the case in the U.S. where red remains almost as popular with new car buyers as blue and gray, capturing 12 percent of the new car market. This means in Europe, red is a pretty safe color to buy if you don’t want your car stolen. Don’t count on that benefit here in the United States. On this side of the Atlantic, DuPont lists the most popular new car colors are white, black, silver, gray, blue, red, and brown, in that order. Green, yellow/gold, and pink are the least popular.

The obvious downside to choosing any one of the less desirable colors is that when you decide to sell the car, it will probably be more difficult to find a buyer interested in purchasing it, and you may get less for it than a car with a more popular color. After all, not everyone is willing to drive around in a pink car just to deter potential thieves.  

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