Arlington, Virginia – The Cadillac Escalade is more than six times as likely as the average vehicle to be targeted by thieves and has overall theft losses more than ten times as big, according to the U.S. Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). The institute analyzed insurance claims for vehicles 2008 to 2010.

For years the Escalade has dominated HLDI’s list of vehicles with the most theft claims, and four versions of the luxury SUV appear at the top this time. The Escalade EXT truck is ranked worst, with more than 14 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years, or more than eight times the average.

Pickup trucks are popular with thieves and the Ford F-250 crew cab 4×4 came in second to the Escalade for the most theft claims. Overall, pickups have much higher theft losses than passenger cars and SUVs, averaging US$24 per insured vehicle year versus $9 and $12 respectively. However, pickup losses fell substantially for 2007 through 2009, which the HLDI said may because of the fact that ignition immobilizers, which prevent vehicles from being hot-wired, recently have become more common in trucks. The technology became widespread in cars and SUVs earlier.

However, the HLDI warned that immobilizers cannot prevent all types of theft, and even Escalades have them as standard equipment. The devices also do not affect property theft from a vehicle, which is also reflected in the rankings.

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

Excluding luxury and sports cars, the most targeted car is the Chrysler 300. It is followed by models with powerful engines, including the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Charger Hemi and Nissan Maxima.

The vehicles with the lowest claim frequencies are the Audi A6 all-wheel sedan and the Mercury Mariner, a small SUV. Each has a claim frequency of 0.5 per 1,000 insured vehicle years, but the Audi has a much higher average loss per claim.

HLDI said its theft numbers differ from reports by other organizations because they are based on the number of insured vehicles on the road, rather than simply a list of the most frequently stolen vehicles, and as a result the list usually reflects the most commonly-driven vehicles, not how likely a vehicle is to be targeted.

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