Incarcerated, recidivist car thieves are responsible for most vehicle thefts in U.S.

By Jim Collins and Peter Platzer, (CNN) — Buying a car in the United States is now so easy that it’s inching further and further toward becoming a lottery.

In some places it feels like finding a winning lottery ticket. In others it feels like purchasing a lottery ticket.

However, despite looking like a hot product in the eyes of buyers, cars are losing against other vehicle types in losses — auto theft — over the past decade.

Just take a look at this trend against the backdrop of the notorious Obama administration “fault triangle” of costs, time and risk of loss to uninsurable drivers — insurance, gas prices and bad roads.

The reliability of vehicle models in 2017 isn’t helping either, with several brands dropping, including Toyota, Honda and Chrysler. In two studies released this month by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, (whose head is a CNN contributor) of its annual crash tests, Toyota Camry crossovers fell to fourth from first and Honda CR-V’s to third from first in safety features such as electronic stability control.

Bottom line? With increased competition between auto sellers and flat out unreliability of product, this means either an auto seller (usually the dealership) loses its basic pricing and promotional tool or an auto buyer is faced with sticker shock.

For the past decade, the situation has been volatile. As cars have gone through numerous redesigns and “gimmicks” to increase market share, new numbers of stolen vehicles have either fallen or crept up modestly. In the 11th annual IIHS Vehicle Protection Index, launched in 2010, fewer than 15.7 million cars and light trucks were stolen last year compared to 17.1 million the year before.

Over the past 10 years, the number of stolen vehicles has fluctuated within a range between about 17 million and 17.8 million.

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