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Cars That Thieves Don’t Want

Damaged Goods?

Some things never change. Like auto theft.

The Highway Loss Data Institute released its annual list of the most- and least-stolen vehicles Thursday and a perusal of the top 10 most stolen cars list indicates that thieves still favor large pickups and SUVs. The number one stolen car of the year, for instance, was the Cadillac Escalade, a large luxury SUV. Thieves are also going for large cars known for their power (or HEMI) engines, including the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger and the Nissan Maxima.

Conversely, the cars appearing on the least-stolen list tend to be small or mid-size vehicles that are more sedate in appearance and, as senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute Kim Hazelbaker says, in some cases just not worth going to jail for.

“It’s a mixed bag of vehicles,” Hazelbaker says. That mixed bag includes some unexpected vehicles; read on for the details, and for Hazelbaker’s explanations for how some of them got there.

Photo Credit: John Carl Johnson

Measuring the Madness

The Highway Loss Data Institute bases its ranking on data provided by insurers representing about 80% of the market for privately insured vehicles.

That means it doesn’t include information on thefts of uninsured vehicles or vehicles insured by non-reporting companies. It also doesn’t address whether the theft was of the entire vehicle, vehicle parts or vehicle contents, instead identifying which cars are most often targeted by thieves across the board.

Claim frequencies are determined per 1,000 insured vehicles and form the basis of the ranking. Vehicles are from 2008-2010 model years unless otherwise noted, and overall losses are the average payment per insured vehicle.

Photo Credit:  Steve Snograss

Mini Cooper Clubman

Claim frequency: 0.7

Average loss payment per claim: $1,883

Overall theft losses: $1

Vehicle Size/Type: Mini two-door car

Photo Credit:  MiniUsa

BMW  5 series 4WD

Claim frequency: 0.7

Average loss payment per claim: $12,200

Overall theft losses: $8

Vehicle Size/Type: Large luxury car

Hazelbacker explains that one of the reasons BMW’s 5 series and (spoiler alert!) two other luxury vehicles popped up on the list of least-stolen vehicles is that these types of cars have excellent ignition immobilizers, which prevent vehicles from being hot-wired.

“It’s a technical issue,” he says, explaining that one of the reasons pickups are popular amongst thieves is that, up until recently, they didn’t have immobilizers are part of their standard equipment package.

Photo Credit: BMW

Chevrolet Aveo (2009-2010)

Claim frequency: 0.6

Average loss payment per claim: $7,642

Overall theft losses: $5

Vehicle Size/Type: Mini station wagon

Photo Credit:  GM

Saturn Vue

Claim frequency: 0.6

Average loss payment per claim: $3,747

Overall theft losses: $2

Vehicle Size/Type: Midsize SUV

Photo Credit: mlabowicz

Lexus RX 350 (2010)

Claim frequency: 0.6

Average loss payment per claim: $6,084

Overall theft losses: $4

Vehicle Size/Type: Midsize luxury SUV

Photo Credit: JMRosenfeld

Chevrolet Equinox 4WD (2010)

Claim frequency: 0.6

Average loss payment per claim: $4,870

Overall theft losses: $3

Vehicle Size/Type: Midsize SUV

Chevrolet Equinox (2010)*

Claim frequency: 0.6

Average loss payment per claim: $2,069

Overall theft losses: $1

Vehicle Size/Type: Midsize SUV

*Since the Chevrolet Equinox and the Chevrolet Equinox 4WD are the same car with different features, we combined them

Photo Credit:  GM

Volkswagen CC (2009-10)

Claim frequency: 0.6

Average loss payment per claim: $7,098

Overall theft losses: $4

Vehicle Size/Type: Midsize car

Photo Credit: VW

Mercury Mariner

Claim frequency: 0.5

Average loss payment per claim: $1,970

Overall theft losses: $1

Vehicle Size/Type: Small SUV

Photo Credit: antonares

Audi A6 4WD

Claim frequency: 0.5

Average loss payment per claim: $16,882

Overall theft losses: $8

Vehicle Size/Type: Large luxury car

In addition to having better immobilizers, Hazelbaker attributed that Audi’s appearance, along with its luxury counterparts the Lexus RX350 and the BMW 5 series, to availability issues. For instance, he says, these cars “are more likely to be spending the night in a suburban garage” than on a city street.

Photo Credit: George Arriola

The Most Expensive Cars to Insure

Cars popular amongst thieves tend to cost more to insure. Find out what vehicles typically have the highest and lowest insurance rates in this MainStreet roundup.

Photo Credit: Nissan.com

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