The shiny Cadillac Escalade SUV, a favorite of celebrities like Tiger Woods, is once again the vehicle voted most likely to be stolen, according to an insurance industry group.
The F-250 crew cab pickup, Infiniti G37 two-door car, Dodge Charger with its high-power HEMI engine and Chevrolet Corvette Z06 round out the list of the top five vehicles most likely to be the subject of insurance theft claims. Least likely targets of thieves are family vehicles like the Volvo S80, Saturn Vue and Nissan Murano, Honda Pilot and Subaru Impreza.
The Highway Loss Data Institute, which is part of the Arlington-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, calculated theft claim rates for vehicles from the 2007-2009 model years. The data reports thefts per insured vehicles on the road.
The Escalade, which starts at $62,495, has ranked as the most-stolen in six of the last seven reports. A theft claim is filed for one out of every 100 insured Escalades, the group said, and the average insurance payout is $11,934. That compares with an average of $6,883 for all vehicles.
Almost one in every four Escalade theft claims is for $40,000 or more. Escalades are equipped with antitheft ignition immobilizers that prevent them from being started without a special key, but that doesn't prevent some thieves from hauling them away on flatbed trucks, said Kim Hazelbaker, senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute.
"Thieves are after chrome, horsepower and HEMIs," she said.
Large SUVs like the Escalade have the highest overall theft losses, with large pickups second. Hazelbaker said trucks are targeted for various reasons. In addition to their looks, large pickups can be used for work or they might be carrying valuable tools or cargo.
The Institute said the frequency of theft claims for cars and SUVS has been declining since 1998. Pickup thefts also had been on the downswing until 2006, when the Institute noticed an uptick in claims.
Two-door minicars are the least likely group to be targeted.