Steal This: What Car Thieves Crave

Thieves continue to target larger than life vehicles.

Arlington, Virginia — That iron gray metallic 2010 Volkswagen CC sitting in your driveway is your pride and joy, but no worries: car thieves aren’t interested in it. Nor are they casting longing eyes on your neighbor’s chili red Mini Cooper Clubman or at your spouse’s four-wheel-drive Audi A6 donned in aviator blue metallic sheetmetal.

Crime Wave

What thieves want are vehicles that are big, brash and blinged out, models like the Cadillac Escalade in all four of its body variations. Those are the findings of the latest Highway Loss Data Institute survey of insurance claims for 2008 to 2010 model year vehicles. The Escalade remains the favorite among thieves who have especially been targetting the truck-like Escalade ESV, a vehicle that is 8 times as likely to be stolen as the industry average.

The HLDI’s top ten list of highest claim rates for stolen vehicles is owned by the Detroit 3 with no foreign manufacturer cracking the list. Most vehicles are trucks and SUVs including the four-wheel-drive Ford F-250, F-450 and F-350 crew cab models, ranked second, fourth and seventh, respectively, and the GMC Yukon which is ranked ninth. Two versions of the Chrysler 300 were ranked sixth and tenth, the only cars found on the HLDI’s top ten list.

Vehicle Immobilizers

Higher theft rates translates into higher premiums for owners and immobilizers don’t seem to help. This anti-theft feature is standard on all Cadillac Escalades and has no effect on halting theft of property inside of the vehicle, another target of thieves and a contributor to the high insurance claim filings from Escalade owners.

“Immobilizers are a good deterrent against joy-riding teenagers, but professional thieves can easily haul away an SUV on a flatbed truck,” says HLDI senior vice president Kim Hazelbaker. “A pickup that can’t be driven away is still vulnerable to having tools and cargo snatched from its bed.”

The HLDI derives its data from insurers that represent approximately 80 percent of the market for privately insured vehicles. This information does not include information on thefts of vehicles that aren’t insured or are insured by companies that don’t report that information to the HLDI. Moreover, the HLDI report doesn’t tell you what was stolen which could mean the entire vehicle, some of its parts or the contents of that vehicle such as packages or other personal belongings may have resulted in an insurance claim being filed.

Check out the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Hot Wheels 2011 list for details on what cars thieves want regardless of vehicle age. The NICB list does not include insurance claim information.

Fewest Claims

Besides the Audi, Volkswagen and MINI models mentioned in the first paragraph which had the fewest claims, the Mercury Mariner, Chevrolet Equinox, Lexus RX 350 and Chevrolet Aveo were some other models that had the least amount of claims filed. Visit the reference following this article for more information about the HLDI’s findings including average loss payment per claim and overall theft losses.


HLDI; Cadillac Escalade, Large Pickup Trucks Top List Of Thieves’ Favorite Vehicles, Claims Data Show; August 25, 2011

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