Cars That Thieves Don't Want

Jeanine Skowronski
Thieves favor large pickups and SUVs.
Thieves favor large pickups and SUVs.

The Highway Loss Data Institute recently released its annual list of the most- and least-stolen vehicles,  and a perusal of the top 10 most stolen cars list indicates thieves still favor large pickups and SUVs. The No. 1 stolen car of the year, for instance, was the Cadillac Escalade, a large luxury SUV. Thieves are also going for large cars known for their power (or Hemi) engines, including the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Nissan Maxima.

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Conversely, the cars appearing on the least-stolen list tend to be small or midsize vehicles that are more sedate in appearance and, as senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute Kim Hazelbaker says, in some cases just not worth going to jail for.

"It's a mixed bag of vehicles," Hazelbaker says. That mixed bag includes some unexpected vehicles.

Measuring the madness
The Highway Loss Data Institute bases its ranking on data provided by insurers representing about 80% of the market for privately insured vehicles.

That means it doesn't include information on thefts of uninsured vehicles or vehicles insured by non-reporting companies. It also doesn't address whether the theft was of the entire vehicle, vehicle parts or vehicle contents, instead identifying which cars are most often targeted by thieves across the board.

Claim frequencies are determined per 1,000 insured vehicles and form the basis of the ranking. Vehicles are from 2008-10 model years unless otherwise noted.

Mini Cooper Clubman

Claim frequency: 0.7
Average loss payment per claim: $1,883
Vehicle size/type: Mini two-door car

Chevrolet Aveo (2008-2010)

2011 Mini Cooper Clubman
2011 Mini Cooper Clubman


Claim frequency: 0.6
Average loss payment per claim: $7,642
Vehicle size/type: Mini station wagon
.
BMW 5 series 4WD

Claim frequency: 0.7
Average loss payment per claim: $12,200
Vehicle size/type: Large luxury car

Hazelbacker explains that one of the reasons BMW's 5 series and (spoiler alert!) two other luxury vehicles popped up on the list of least-stolen vehicles is that these types of cars have excellent ignition immobilizers, which prevent vehicles from being hot-wired.

"It's a technical issue," he says, explaining that one of the reasons pickups are popular amongst thieves is that, until recently, they didn't have immobilizers as part of their standard equipment package.

Saturn Vue

Claim frequency: 0.6
Average loss payment per claim: $3,747
Vehicle size/type: Midsize SUV

Lexus RX 350 (2010)

Claim frequency: 0.6
Average loss payment per claim: $6,084
Vehicle size/type: Midsize luxury SUV

Chevrolet Equinox 4WD (2010)

Claim frequency: 0.6
Average loss payment per claim: $4,870
Vehicle size/type: Midsize SUV

Volkswagen CC (2009-10)

Claim frequency: 0.6
Average loss payment per claim: $7,098
Vehicle size/type: Midsize car

Chevrolet Equinox (2010)

Claim frequency: 0.6
Average loss payment per claim: $2,069
Vehicle size/type: Midsize SUV
(The Chevrolet Equinox and the Chevrolet Equinox 4WD are the same car with different features.)

Mercury Mariner

Claim frequency: 0.5
Average loss payment per claim: $1,970
Vehicle size/type: Small SUV

Audi A6 4WD

BMW 5-series
BMW 5-series
Lexus RX-350
Lexus RX-350
Volkswagen CC
Volkswagen CC
Audi A6
Audi A6

Claim frequency: 0.5
Average loss payment per claim: $16,882
Vehicle size/type: Large luxury car

In addition to having better immobilizers, Hazelbaker attributed Audi's disfavor to its appearance; along with its luxury counterparts the Lexus RX350 and the BMW 5 series, availability issues also prevent theft. For instance, he says, these cars "are more likely to be spending the night in a suburban garage" than on a city street.