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Cadillac Escalade Tops Most Stolen Vehicle List (Again)

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On: Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 9:42AM | By: Chris Weiss


Cadillac Escalade Tops Most Stolen Vehicle List (Again)

Popular culture is oh so quick to romanticize the high life behind rolling on chromed-out 24s in your Escalade, but it leaves out a glaring piece of the puzzle: the part about when you finish up sippin' Cris at the club and come out to find an empty parking spot where you're freshly washed Escalade was once resting. According to a new report by the Highway Data Loss Institute, Cadillac's biggest model is the most stolen vehicle on the road. In fact, the Escalade has topped the HDLI's list 6 out of the past 7 times, making it one of the more fleeting status symbols of modern times.

The HDLI's numbers are derived from the frequency of insurance theft claims and the size of payouts over the last three model years, so they don't necessarily include all cases of theft. The 2007 to 2009 Escalade was followed by the Ford F-250, Infiniti G37 and Dodge Charger with HEMI engine. Those four models averaged about 3 to 5 times more thefts than the average vehicle.

The vehicle group that experienced the most thefts according to the report is the extra large luxury SUV segment. Given that the HDLI's report takes financial losses into account, it's not surprising that large, expensive SUVs would be at the top.

Similarly, some cars made the list not so much for the fact that they were likely to get stolen but because the claims were significantly higher than average. The fifth car on the list was the Corvette Z06, which averaged a claim of $41,229--more than four times that of the Dodge Charger with Hemi.

Though a Ford F-250 pickup truck doesn't sound like the most glamorous vehicle to steal, HDLI surmises that part of the reason that pickup trucks are stolen is not only because of what's outside, but what's inside. Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president, explains: "Investigators tell us big work trucks like the Ford F-250/350, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Dodge Ram 2500 are attractive not only because of the vehicles themselves but also because of the tools and cargo they carry."

Another interesting insight from Hazelback is that thieves are able to make off with vehicles despite the latest anti-theft technologies by simply putting them on top of flat bed tow trucks and driving away.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Volvo S80 had the lowest losses, followed by the 2008/2009 Saturn VUE 4WD and the 2009 Nissan Murano.

HDLI's numbers indicate that frequency of theft for both cars and SUVs has declined over the past 10 years, but payouts have increased. Pickup trucks experienced more ups and downs with frequency falling through 2001, rising through 2006 and then falling again.

PRESS RELEASE:

Cadillac Escalade, Ford F-250 pickup, and Infiniti G37 top list of highest insurance claims for theft

ARLINGTON, VA - The rate at which people file insurance claims for theft is highest for versions of the 2007-09 Cadillac Escalade, a luxury SUV, followed by the Ford F-250 crew pickup, Infiniti G37 luxury car, and Dodge Charger with a HEMI engine. Theft rates for these vehicles are 3 to 5 times as high as the average for all vehicles. These are the latest theft loss results for passenger vehicles 1 to 3 years old published by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

"Sedate family cars and fuel sippers aren't on the hot list," says Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president. "Thieves are after chrome, horsepower, and HEMIs."

Overall theft losses take into account not only the rate at which insurance claims are filed but also the size of the payments for claims, and most of the vehicles with the highest overall theft losses are SUVs and large pickups. The Escalade has ranked worst in overall theft losses in 6 of the past 7 HLDI reports. In fact, all 4 versions of the Escalade head the list of the worst overall losses for theft, with average yearly losses more than 7 times the average for all passenger vehicles. The Escalade EXT 4-door 4-wheel-drive has the highest theft losses of all, with $146 in theft payments per insured vehicle year. This is more than 10 times the $14 average theft payments per year for all passenger vehicles.

The vehicle group with the highest overall theft losses ($82 in theft payments per year) is very large luxury SUVs. Losses for these vehicles are nearly 6 times as high as the $14 average for all passenger vehicles. Very large pickups have the second highest overall theft losses, at $57 per insured vehicle year, and 2-door minicars have the lowest at $4 per insured vehicle year.

Almost 1 of every 4 Escalade theft claims is for $40,000 or more. These vehicles are equipped with standard antitheft ignition immobilizers that are supposed to prevent them from being started without a proper key. The problem, Hazelbaker says, is that "even though Escalades have the latest immobilizer technology, thieves still can put them on flatbeds and haul them away."

HLDI's are the only reported theft results based on the number of insured vehicles on the road. Information on theft losses published by the National Insurance Crime Bureau doesn't take into account the number of each vehicle insured, so the most popular vehicles on the road tend to top this organization's list of most-stolen vehicles. This doesn't tell an individual owner how likely a particular car is to have a theft claim. To answer that question, HLDI identifies vehicles with the worst theft losses by counting the number of insurance claims by make and model relative to the number of each make and model insured. This indicates the vehicles that are most likely to be theft targets, taking into account their exposure on the road.

New to the worst list: The Chevrolet Corvette Z06, a high-performance midsize sports car, isn't stolen nearly as often as the other vehicles on the worst list, but claims are expensive when the Z06 does go missing. The average size of an insurance claim payment is $41,229. This compares with $10,118 for a Dodge Charger with a HEMI engine, a large family car that makes the worst list mainly because of how often it's stolen.

Pickups are a group to watch: "In many cases it's tough to pinpoint exactly why a vehicle becomes a theft target," Hazelbaker says. "Investigators tell us big work trucks like the Ford F-250/350, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Dodge Ram 2500 are attractive not only because of the vehicles themselves but also because of the tools and cargo they carry."
HLDI results take into account theft of a vehicle and also vehicle content. Overall theft losses for pickup trucks climbed steadily between 1999 and 2006 as the US economy boomed but now are decreasing. Still, as a group these vehicles have losses that are at least twice those of cars and SUVs.

Best theft losses: The Volvo S80, a large luxury car, leads the best list with overall losses equal to 4 percent of the average for all passenger vehicles. Next best are the Saturn VUE 4-wheel-drive midsize SUV and Nissan Murano midsize SUV. The Toyota Prius, a hybrid car, also ranks among the top 10. The 10 best vehicles have overall theft losses less than 15 percent of the average. Average payments for a theft claim are less than one-third the average.

Long-term trends: Since 1998 the frequency of theft claims for cars and SUVs has declined while average insurance payments per claim have increased. Frequencies have dropped the most for SUVs, declining from 4.9 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years in 1998 to 2.4 in 2008. (An insured vehicle year is 1 vehicle insured for 1 year, 2 for 6 months each, etc.)
For pickups, the downward trend in claim frequencies that began in 1998 reversed in 2001 and increased through 2006. Meanwhile, average insurance payments per theft claim have risen the most for pickups. SUVs had the highest average payments per claim until 2005, when results for pickups overtook those for SUVs.



HIGHEST LOSSES

Cadillac Escalade
Ford F-250 crew 4WD
Infiniti G37 2-door
Dodge Charger HEMI
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Hummer H2 4WD
Nissan Pathfinder Armada
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
GMC Yukon

LOWEST LOSSES

Volvo S80
Saturn VUE 4WD (2008-09)
Nissan Murano (2009)
Saturn VUE (2008-09)
Honda Pilot 4WD (2009)
Subaru Impreza (2008-09)
Toyota Prius
Mini Cooper
Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Sienna 4WD


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