Car thieves are thinking big these days.
The heavy-duty Ford F-250 full-size pickup truck suffers the auto industry’s highest theft rate from the 2010-2012 model years, according to statistics compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute, Arlington, Va. That’s nearly six times the average theft rate among all vehicles.
Crooks seem to be favoring muscle and practicality over sheer status these days, as Ford’s F-250 toppled the perennial favorite Cadillac Escalade full-size luxury SUV, which previously had held the top-spot in the Institute’s rankings for the last three years. The big and chrome bedecked Escalade dropped to sixth place on the most-stolen list this year. For the record, the HLDI credits added antitheft technology on recent-model Escalades, along with waning popularity for a model that’s been only modestly updated since 2007 as likely reasons for the Cadillac’s fall from favor, at least among crooks.
“General Motors has put a lot of effort into new antitheft technology, so that may help explain the decline in the Escalade’s theft rate,” says HLDI vice president Matt Moore. “On the other hand, sales of the Escalade have fallen in recent years, so there may be less of a market for stolen Escalades or Escalade parts.”
The aforementioned technology, specifically high-tech engine immobilizers that prevent vehicles from being “hot wired” and driven away, have helped reduce vehicle thefts virtually across the board in recent years. They’re standard in 89 percent of 2012 models, but are far less common among big pickups than other vehicle types, which could help explain why they account for six out of the 10 most stolen vehicles noted in the accompanying box.
Even so, the Ford F-250 from the 2010-2012 model years was equipped with an immobilizer, so thieves are perhaps becoming smarter than the technology that’s in place to stop them. Another explanation is that trucks suffer more claims for equipment theft from open pickup beds and aftermarket storage compartments than do SUVs and other models that have enclosed cargo areas.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a model that’s more likely to remain in the driveway than headed to a chop shop to be dismantled for parts or re-sold under a falsified title, choose a midsize Dodge Journey crossover SUV, which sits at number one on HLDI’s list of least-stolen models. Far from being a rogue’s gallery of otherwise forgettable models, this list (also featured in the accompanying box) features some surprisingly popular and alluring models from the likes of Acura, Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Lexus and Volkswagen.
HLDI says its car theft rankings differ from other such rankings because they’re based in relation to the number of insured vehicles on the road from two consecutive model years, and not just the most frequently pilfered models, which tend to skew in favor of the most popular cars and trucks. A vehicle must have at least 20,000 insured vehicle years or 100 claims to be included in the report; an insured vehicle year is officially defined as one vehicle being insured for one year.