- The Dodge HEMI Charger tops insurers' latest list of vehicles that are most likely to get stolen.
- Albuquerque remains the car theft capital for the third consecutive year, according to the Highway Loss Data Insitute.
- Electric cars like Tesla's Models S and X have lower theft claim rates than comparable vehicles.
If you're a police dispatcher anywhere in America, you've probably gotten that anguished call complaining that "my Hellcat is missing." When it comes to stolen cars – at least those that are insured – two powerful Dodges, the Charger HEMI and the Challenger Hellcat, are one and two on the list. Both these vehicles have theft claim rates more than five times the average for 2016 to 2018 models, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute's (HLDI) list of autos most likely to be boosted.
Another tempting target: The regular two-door and four-door Dodge Charger. Advertised as "America's mid-sized muscle car," and ranging from nearly 300 to more than 700 horsepower, the Charger could be a metaphor for gone in 60 seconds if you leave one parked on the wrong street.
"Thieves are attracted to pricey vehicles with bling, horsepower and pop culture appeal," says HLDI spokesman Russ Rader.
Other "most wanted" vehicles are two Infinitis, the Q50 four-door and the QX80; the Chrysler 300 four-wheel drive, and a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
No longer topping the HLDI list – and mercifully for its owners – is the. Considered a luxury vehicle, it was so popular with thieves that General Motors added glass breakage sensors and an "inclinator sensor" which triggers an alarm if anyone tries to load it onto a flatbed truck. (For more on safety tips, see the list at the bottom.)
The HLDI most-stolen roster differs from most police-blotter polls of cars likely to be purloined. They are likely to list the humble Honda Civic as being most popular with thieves. And they also find that the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are likely to end up in chop shops, because the parts are more valuable than the whole.
In contrast, the HLDI looked at "whole vehicle claims" using the yardstick of a total loss. Hence, more valuable vehicles, luxury, big engine and monster pickups, topped the HLDI list. Many were big trucks like the GMC Sierra and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cabs. Why so many trucks? One rationale could be from where these vehicles are stolen – almost always out west in areas not near big cities.
For the third year in a row Albuquerque, New Mexico tops the 2018 list as America's car theft capital, with the highest per person chance of finding nothing but broken glass as opposed to your car. Other places you probably shouldn't leave your car unattended, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB), include Anchorage, Alaska; St. Joseph, Missouri; and Bakersfield, Modesto, Redding, Stockton and Vallejo, Californiai.
The good news from the NCIB, which is also funded by the insurance industry: Car thefts are on a "downward trend" that began in 2004. And they'll continue in that direction as more anti-theft devices are installed, including the now popular "telematics," which informs insurers as to how you drive your car, or if someone you don't know is driving your car.
Modern technology won't triumph over sophisticated car thieves looking for a specific make and model, but will help. Despite all the publicity surrounding Tesla vehicles, the Tesla Models S and X are among the least stolen, says the HLDI. And in a separate report, the HLDI showed electric vehicles have lower theft claim rates than comparable vehicles, possibly because owners park them in garages, or leave them tethered to a power supply.
Tips to avoid your car being taken for a ride:
- Park in a lighted area.
- Lock the steering wheel, brakes and wheels.
- Install audible alarms.
- Mount fuse cutoffs and kill switches.
- Activate tracking devices.