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American trucks and SUVs top the charts — for car thieves

August 25, 2011

American trucks and SUVs top the charts — for car thieves

4 versions of Cadillac Escalade have most insurance claims

/ Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — General Motors Co.’s Cadillac Escalade led in the nation in highest insurance claims for theft for the ninth straight year, a study released Thursday said.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute said four versions of the Escalade top the list of 2008-10 vehicles with high theft claims. The Escalade EXT — which has a pickup bed — is ranked the worst with more than 14 claims per 1,000 insured vehicles — or eight times the average.

The high-end luxury SUV has 22-inch wheels and tires, many of which are customized, that make it attractive to thieves. The average claim for a theft of a Cadillac Escalade is $10,555.

The Escalade is followed by five pickups — Ford’s F-250, F-350, F-450 and GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 and two versions of the Chrysler 300 also were high on the list.

Vehicles with the lowest claim rates include the Audi A6, Mercury Mariner, Chevrolet Equinox, and Volkswagen CC.

To combat thieves, GM is ramping up security features on the 2012 Escalade, which goes on sale in the next two weeks.

Automakers have been beefing up the use of “engine immobilizers” to make it more difficult to steal vehicles.. Vehicle immobilizers have been in use for more than a decade. The electronic devices prevent the vehicle from being operated unless the right code is sent by the key.

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

GM uses cryptographic transponder immobilizers — “state of the art devices” — as part of a layered approach to deterring theft, said Bill Biondo, who heads GM global vehicle security. In 2010, GM added a steering column lock in the Escalade and is upgrading the steering column theft lock for the 2012 model year.

GM is offering two optional sensors in the 2012 model — an inclination sensor that will sound an alarm if someone attempts to jack up the SUV or tow it away.

A second “shock” sensor will sound an alarm if glass is shattered.

Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co. also have upgraded security.

“We’ve beefed up the security of our interior components like navigation systems to stay one step ahead of someone breaking into a vehicle,” said Chrysler’s Vince Muniga.

Ford added transponder immobilization systems to all F-250, 350 and 450 trucks in 2007, said spokesman Wes Sherwood.

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Additional Facts
Top theft claims
2008-10 vehicles
Cadillac Escalade (four versions)
F-250 crew
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Ford F-450
GMC Sierra 1500 crew
Chrysler 300
Ford F-350 4WD
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500
GMC Yukon
Chrysler 300 HEMI

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