Pickups and SUVs top list of vehicles with the highest theft rates

The Ford F-250 pickup truck has replaced the Cadillac Escalade as the vehicle with the highest theft rate for 2010-2012, according to a new report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), a division of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. New anti-theft technology on the Escalade and its waning popularity are two reasons cited for its fall from first to sixth place on the list.

Clearly, pickup trucks and SUVs are popular among thieves. The F-250 has a claim frequency of nearly six times the average of all vehicles. However, thefts are declining due to ignition immobilizers, which prevent thieves from hot-wiring a vehicle. For the 2012 model year, 89 percent of vehicles had this technology; it is standard on most cars and SUVs, but not on as many pickup trucks.

Both the F-250 and Escalade have ignition immobilizers, yet these models continue to be popular with thieves. Even with the added protection, enterprising larcenists could use tow trucks or a flatbed to take the large vehicles.

Pickup rankings are raised by the possible theft of equipment from the truck bed. HDLI doesn't distinguish between the theft of items or the whole vehicle.

More From Consumer Reports

Since 2010, the Escalade has been outfitted with additional theft-deterrents, including a steering column lock. In 2012, an inclination sensor was added that could set off an alarm when the parked SUV's angle is changed, as would it would be when towed. These features have helped to drop the average loss payment of Escalade claims to $6,508 compared to $11,934 for the 2007-2009 model years.

Below is a list of the highest and lowest insurance theft claim rates. The list differs from the information published on the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which lists the most frequently stolen vehicles, which are more commonly driven cars. The HDLI list looks at claim frequency which is per 1,000 insured vehicle years. An insured vehicle year is one vehicle insured for one year.

Highest claim rates Claim frequency Average loss payment per claim Overall theft losses
Ford F-250 crew 4WD 7.0 $7,060 $50
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew 6.7 $5,463 $37
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 6.1 $6,163 $38
GMC Sierra 1500 crew 6.0 $6,366 $38
Ford F-350 crew 4WD 5.6 $7,517 $42
Cadillac Escalade 4WD 5.5 $6,508 $36
Chevrolet Suburban 1500 5.4 $4,468 $24
GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab 4.7 $5,908 $28
GMC Yukon 4.5 $6,276 $28
Chevrolet Tahoe 4.4 $5,367 $23
Lowest claim rates
Dodge Journey 4WD .04 $5,016 $2
Volkswagen Tiguan 4WD .04 $10,352 $4
Audi A4 .04 $13,352 $5
Acura RDX .04 $8,701 $3
Toyota Matrix .04 $7,782 $3
Lexus HS 250 .04 $2,226 $1
Honda CR-V .04 $4,630 $2
Hyundai Tucson 4WD .04 $4,134 $2
Toyota Sienna 4WD .05 $13,038 $6
Jeep Compass 4WD .05 $5,527 $3

While protecting your ride is a year-round chore, July is officially National Vehicle Theft Prevention month. Hence, now is a good time to review a few simple reminders that might help keep your vehicle in your good hands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers these tips on how to protect your car from theft:

  • Always take your key, don't leave it in or on your vehicle.
  • Always close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Always keep your vehicle in your garage, if possible.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially where they can be seen.
  • Never leave the area while your vehicle is running.
  • Protect your vehicle with an anti-theft/immobilizer device.

For more tips and a list of U.S. hot spots for vehicle thefts, see our recent report "How to keep your car from getting stolen."

Copyright © 2005-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.