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At the annual media briefing by the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) yesterday, the umbrella body revealed that the insurance industry saw the lowest growth rates in recent years in 2016, while claims remained high at RM5.02 billion. The latter is attributed to Malaysia’s high accident rate as well as rising medical costs.

It wasn’t a great year for Malaysia’s insurers, which fortunes are linked to the automotive industry. With 46.2% of the pie, motor insurance is the biggest contributor to the business, way ahead of fire insurance, the second largest class at 18.5%. Auto sales saw a decline for the first time in 2016 after six consecutive years of growth, falling below the 600k mark for the first time since 2009.

There was a bright spot however, and it’s the decline in vehicle theft. In his presentation, PIAM CEO Mark Lim pointed out that the police and customs have done a good job in crippling car theft gangs and syndicates, working together with the Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (VTREC), a multi-stakeholder organisation set up by PIAM. The number of reported stolen vehicles was down 20% to 19,307 units last year.

Breaking down the headline 20% figure (19,307 thefts vs 24,154 in 2015), saw reduction in vehicle theft across all classes – private car (-16%), motorcycle (-24%) and commercial vehicles (-9%). The statistics do not take into account recovery of stolen vehicles.

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What’s interesting is the “most wanted” list. The models you expect to see are high up in the charts, but there are some surprises as well. The chart just above this shows absolute theft figures, which is expectedly dominated by national car models, as the majority of cars on the road are Protons and Peroduas. The Proton Wira is once again the most stolen vehicle in Malaysia, retaining its “crown” from 2015.

The Toyota Hilux is second, just like in 2015. But unlike the Wira and most other top 10 entries, there was an increase in the number of stolen Hilux trucks in 2016, proving that demand for the Toyota pick-up among thieves is stronger than ever. The Toyota Vios enters the chart in 10th place, replacing the Honda Civic.

What’s more pertinent is the chart for the most frequently stolen vehicles. This list counts the number of thefts over the total number of that particular car model on the roads, for theft frequency. Here, the highest ratio belongs to the Toyota Vellfire, which saw 114 thefts relative to nearly 55,000 units on the road.

Besides the luxury MPV, 4×4 vehicles are also in demand. The Hilux is of course on this dubious podium, along with the Mitsubishi Pajero, while the SsangYong Rexton is in eighth place. Rexton aside, these hardy vehicles are also in high demand in neighbouring countries. The desirable Proton Putra’s presence here is understandable, but we’re scratching our heads on the Peugeot 508’s number four spot.

If you don’t know, now you know. Toyota Hilux and Vellfire owners, be careful.