Improving a Car Theft Visualization

21 Nov 2016

Ice Cream Crimes Data Visualization

I receive data visualizations every day in my email inbox from Statista, and they range from insightful to comical, but they’re very often thought provoking. I received one the other day that definitely provoked some thought from me, though it caused me to wonder if there was room for improvement.

Statista Visualization of Car Thefts in America

This visualization about car theft in America, while very interesting, shows the thefts in absolute numbers. Part of the takeaway of such a visualization is going to be how safe these cars are in terms of theft deterrent. However, it’s the case that if a certain car is much more popular, then it will be stolen more even if it has the same rate of theft as another less popular car.

To improve this visualization, I would have shown thefts as a percentage of the number of cars that are registered of each model. To show this, it would be helpful to have a complete record of all registered cars in the U.S. I wasn’t able to find such a database, but I did find reports on historical car sales, which are a good estimate. According to an Auto-Blog article, the all-time best selling cars in America are

  1. Toyota Corrola
  2. Ford F-Series
  3. Volkswagen Golf
  4. Volkswagen Beetle
  5. Ford Escort
  6. Honda Civic
  7. Honda Accord
  8. Ford Model T
  9. Volkswagen Passat
  10. Chevrolet Impala

If the sales numbers were included in the theft chart as a normalization factor, then the rankings would probably be different, and in the case that someone uses that information to decide which car is safer, that’s vital information to include.

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