Summertime is busy season for car thieves. From July 4 through the end of August, baddies shift into high gear, nabbing vehicles left at home during long summer vacations and those parked in dodgy locations by unsuspecting road-trippers.
So it's appropriate that the Highway Loss Data Institute has just released its annual top-ten lists of most- and least-stolen vehicles in the U.S. The HLDI based its findings on claims filed with insurance agencies -- which is only natural, since the HLDI is an offshoot of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is funded by America's auto insurers.
The good news this year is that theft rates have continued to fall. HLDI credits the drop largely to ignition immobilizers, which prevent the hotwiring of automobiles and have been adopted by most automakers. In fact, immobilizers came standard on 89 percent of 2012 model-year vehicles.
The bad news is that crooks haven't completely given up, and as we've seen in recent years, they've continued to target SUVs and pickups more than other vehicles*. What's unusual, however, is that their typical target of choice -- the Cadillac Escalade -- has tumbled from its most-favored spot on the thieves' shopping list. That may be because General Motors has put a lot of work into theft-deterrent technology, or it may be because sales of the Escalade are slipping.
In any case, the former king of the hill has fallen to sixth place on the charts, and in its place we find...
The Ford F-250.
We know, we know: it seems awfully strange to us, too. Frankly, it's confusing to the HLDI. The organization has a hunch that the stats may have been affected by the theft of items from truck beds. (HLDI's rankings are based solely on the number of claims made to insurers, without distinguishing between thefts of property from vehicles and the theft of vehicles themselves.) We think it might also have something to do with the rebounding construction and housing sectors, which has resulted in strong truck sales. The HLDI will need to do more work to get to the bottom of this.
Anyway, here are the HLDI's ten most-stolen vehicles:
And at the other end of the scale, we find America's least-stolen vehicles. We'll leave it to Dodge Journey owners to determine whether it's a compliment or an insult that no one wants their SUVs.
* In this regard, the HLDI's findings differ slightly from the National Insurance Crime Bureau stats. HLDI explains the discrepancy like this: "HLDI's theft numbers differ from other rankings because they are based on the number of insured vehicles on the road. In contrast, information published by the National Insurance Crime Bureau simply lists the most frequently stolen vehicles. As a result, that list usually reflects the most commonly driven models."
(c) 2013, High Gear Media.