More than a million car stereos were stolen in 1994, but in the past 15 years, yearly thefts have plummeted by more than half, NPR reports. Why? Automakers now install good stereos from the start, and “there's no market for factory radios because they normally don't fit in any other cars,” says a technician. Years ago, drivers often replaced poor stereos with devices that were easily transferred to other cars.
As it is today, if a thief nabbed, say, a Volkswagen Jetta stereo, he could only sell it to a Jetta driver—and it would be the same stereo the driver had already. In the 1990s, a police officer said, every stolen car had the radio missing. Now, thieves will seize an umbrella or a pair of sunglasses before they take the radio.