Thief Target: Ford F-250 Crew 4WD HLDI Says

The Cadillac Escalade is a distinctive SUV that recently lost one of its more unwelcome attributes: the most stolen vehicle. Indeed, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the Escalade that is one feature Cadillac can cross off of the Escalade’s list. The distinction now belongs to the Ford F-250 Crew four-wheel drive pickup truck, ending the Escalade’s reign as the “most stolen” vehicle, a position that it has held since 2003.

Ford F-250 HLDI high claim rates

Thief magnet: your Ford F-250 pickup truck.

HLDI Insurance Theft Claims

The HLDI says that the Cadillac Escalade has waned in popularity, but newer models have also been outfitted with updated antitheft technology by GM in a bid to bring down theft rates. Those two changes have dropped the Escalade from first to sixth place in claims frequency filing for 2010 to 2012 model year passenger vehicles.

The highest claim rates belong exclusively to American car manufacturers with Ford having two models on the list and GM products holding the other eight positions. Insurance loss claims for the Ford F-250 have reached seven for every 1,000 insured vehicles or six times the rate for all vehicles. The average loss payment per claim for the F-250 was $7,060. When new, the F-250 Super Crew sells from $33,500 to well over $40,000.

Ignition Immobilizer Technology

The HLDI notes that overall theft rates are declining, thanks in no small part to the expanded use of ignition immobilizers, standard in 89 percent of 2012 models. Immobilizers prevent vehicles from being hot-wired, a favorite method thieves employ to rip off vehicles. Still, fewer pickups come equipped with ignition immobilizers than other types of vehicles, perhaps explaining the higher theft rates for pickup trucks. However, the higher theft rate for the F-250 is a bit of a mystery as the 2010 to 2012 models covered by the report come equipped with ignition immobilizers.

Loss claims, unfortunately, do not identify whether the vehicle was stolen or whether property related to the vehicle was reported stolen. Most F-250 crew models are used by commercial enterprises that also carry expensive equipment in the truck bed. That equipment, when stolen, is reported to insurers and counted as a loss. Thus, the owners may still retain their trucks, but may have filed a claim to pay for their lost equipment.

Cadillac Escalade Claim Frequency

The most recent HLDI report notes that the Cadillac Escalade has a claim frequency of 5.5 per 1,000 insured vehicle years. That is still 4.5 times the average for all vehicles, but is now about half the rate for the 2007 to 2009 Escalades reported in 2010. The HLDI notes that only the standard four-wheel drive version of the Cadillac Escalade are included in its report as the other models did not have enough exposure or claims. To qualify, a vehicle must have at least 20,000 insured vehicle years or 100 claims, thus exotic or halo models are not analyzed.

Following the Ford F-250, other models that also garner the most claims include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab, the Chevrolet Avalanche 1500, GMC’s Sierra 1500 crew and the Ford F-350 crew four-wheel drive model. Following the Escalade, the final four positions were held by the Chevrolet Suburban 1500, GMC’s Sierra 1500 extended crew cab, the GMC Yukon and the Chevrolet Tahoe according to the HLDI.

The HLDI also noted that several models have the lowest claim rates. The four-wheel drive Dodge Journey, for instance, registered just 0.4 claims per 1,000, resulting in an average loss of $5,016. That figure, however, did not result in the smallest losses — rather, the Lexus HS 250 held an average loss payment claim of $2,226. Various Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota, Honda, Jeep and Hyundai models were also among the lowest claim rate models.

NHTSA Differences

Readers should note that there are some differences in the way that the HLDI and how the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) report stolen vehicle data. The HLDI reports data based on insured vehicles on the road, while the NICB looks at commonly stolen vehicles including older models not studied by the HLDI.

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  1. [...] If you are in an accident, pull off to the side of the road as far from traffic as possible. If lighting conditions are poor, set up flares to warn other drivers. Keep a fully charged cell phone handy to call for assistance if you are hurt or if your car is too damaged to drive. Stay with your vehicle until help arrives warns the HLDI. [...]