For the first time in a decade, the Cadillac Escalade does not rank as thieves' favorite target, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute's analysis. The dubious distinction now belongs to the Ford F-250 — specifically four-wheel-drive, crew-cab versions of the pickup truck — which is six times more likely to get stolen than the average vehicle. Large pickups and SUVs continued to be targeted at higher rates than other vehicles.
In the Escalade's fall from first to No. 6, the HLDI cited waning popularity and improved antitheft technology, including a steering-column lock and an alarm that sounds when the vehicle's incline changes, along with a standard ignition immobilizer. But it's not all good news for the Escalade. Although its theft rate dipped by 50% from figures reported three years ago, four-wheel-drive versions of the luxury SUV still were stolen 4.5 times more than the average vehicle. The average insurance loss payment was $6,508 compared with nearly $12,000 previously.
Theft rates in general are on the decline due the widespread use of ignition immobilizers, which prevent vehicles from being hotwired; the system was standard on 89% of 2012 models, according to the study. Although fewer pickup trucks than cars or SUVs have the feature, the F-250 had it for the model years covered by the report. "Many pickup claims result from the theft of equipment from the truck bed, and that may be the case with some of the F-250 claims," the report stated, noting that the data doesn't distinguish theft of vehicle contents or components from whole-vehicle theft.
The latest HLDI study covered the 2010-12 model years; to be included a vehicle must have at least 100 claims. The study's rankings are based on the number of insured vehicles on the road in contrast to National Insurance Crime Bureau statistics, which list the most frequently stolen vehicles overall; the list typically mirrors the most commonly driven models.
HLDI's top 10 most stolen vehicles, followed by the average insurance loss, are:
10. Chevrolet Tahoe, $5,367
9. GMC Yukon, $6,276
8. GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab, $5,908
7. Chevrolet Suburban 1500, $4,468
6. Cadillac Escalade with four-wheel drive, $6,508
5. Ford F-350 crew cab and four-wheel drive, $7,517
4. GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab, $6,366
3. Chevrolet Avalanche 1500, $6,163
2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab, $5,463
1. Ford F-250 crew cab and four-wheel drive, $7,060