ARLINGTON, VA – The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) posted its list of vehicles that are most likely to be stolen. The Cadillac Escalade is more than 6 times as likely as other vehicles to be stolen than the average vehicle, according to the organization’s analysis of insurance claims for 2008-2010 vehicles.

The Ford F-250 crew cab 4-wheel drive comes in second. The HLDI states pickup trucks have much higher theft losses than passenger cars and SUVs, at $24 per insured vehicle year versus $9 and $12, respectively, though losses between 2007 and 2009 dropped. The HLDI speculates that the drop is due to a greater number of ignition immobilizers in late-model pickups. That said, the Escalade has an ignition immobilizer as standard equipment.

"Immobilizers are a good deterrent against joy-riding teenagers, but professional thieves can easily haul away an SUV on a flatbed truck," says HLDI senior vice president Kim Hazelbaker. "A pickup that can't be driven away is still vulnerable to having tools and cargo snatched from its bed."

The Chrysler 300 is the car most targeted by thieves. It’s followed by the Chrysler 300 HEMI, Dodge Charger HEMI, and the Nissan Maxima. This list excludes luxury and sports cars.

The Audi A6 sedan and Mercury Mariner SUV have the lowest number of claim frequencies, though the A6 has a higher theft loss per claim ($8 for the A6 vs. $1 for the Mariner).

HLDI says its theft numbers are based on the number of insured vehicles on the road. HLDI's data come from insurers representing roughly 80 percent of the market for privately insured vehicles.

General Motors responded to the HLDI’s findings, pointing out the anti-theft features the company includes on the 2012-MY version of the Escalade.

“We are currently implementing four new pieces of ‘armor’ on Escalade intended to reduce vehicle thefts, particularly those called push away,” said Bill Biondo, GM’s global lead, vehicle theft prevention.  “We are committed to beating the thieves and expect these new theft deterrent systems to greatly reduce the Escalade’s rate of theft and lower its position on HLDI’s list.”

  • A new and more robust steering column lock system designed to make it nearly impossible to maneuver the Escalade onto a flatbed tow vehicle
  • An available inclination sensor that sets off an alarm when the system senses a change of the angle of the vehicle, for example one that would occur when towing, flatbedding, or jacking up the vehicle.
  • An available shock sensor intended to reduce content theft and push away theft by sounding the alarm when the vehicle is “shocked,” such as when the vehicle's windows are broken.
  • A new wheel lock system available to help prevent the theft of an Escalade’s wheels and tires.

The automaker also pointed out the availability of OnStar for the Escalade, which can help locate stolen vehicles.

The chart below lists the HLDI's findings:

Click to view a larger version.

Click to view a larger version.