Most stolen vehicle: Cadillac Escalade

August 25, 2011: 9:54 AM ET
Four different versions of the Cadillac Escalade topped the Highway Loss Data Institute's rankings for theft claim frequency. Highest of all was the EXT, which has a pickup bed in the back.

Four different versions of the Cadillac Escalade topped the Highway Loss Data Institute's rankings for theft claim frequency. Highest of all was the EXT, which has a pickup bed in the back.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Criminals seem to have a thing for big vehicles. The Cadillac Escalade remains the car most likely to be stolen, according to new data from the Highway Loss Data Institute.

This is the fourth year in a row the Escalade has topped this list. The rankings for most stolen cars are based on auto insurance claims data from 2008 and 2009.

Highest theft claims rates
These SUVs, trucks and cars had the most theft-related insurance claims per 1,000 vehicles.
Vehicle Claim Frequency
Cadillac Escalade 10.8
Ford F-250 4WD 9.7
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew 9.2
Ford F-450 crew 4WD 7.9
GMC Sierra 1500 crew 7.3
Chrysler 300 7.1
Ford F-350 crew 4WD 7.0
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 6.4
GMC Yukon 6.4
Chrysler 300 Hemi 6.3
Source:Highway Loss Data Institute

Of the top 10 vehicles with the highest theft frequency, according to the HLDI, eight are large General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) or Ford (F, Fortune 500) trucks or SUVs. The other two are versions of the Chrysler 300 sedan.

Of four versions of the Escalade -- all of which were frequent theft targets -- the Escalade EXT, which has a pickup bed, was the most frequent target.

Thieves steal (or steal from) about 10 of every thousand Escalades on the road.

In this study, theft means either that the car was reported stolen or simply broken into.

Also, the study measures "theft claim frequency," which is the number of thefts reported for every 1,000 of each vehicle on the road.

General Motors said in a statement that it had added a number of theft-deterrent systems to more recent versions of the Escalade, including more robust steering column locks and sensors that detect attempts to break into the vehicles.

When simply looking at the total number of thefts reported, the winner would be the 1994 Honda Accord, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

But pickups and SUVs are high on the hit list for most stolen cars, because criminals in these cases often may not be targeting the vehicle itself. Instead they target other things, like tools, electronics or blinged-out wheels carried in or on the vehicle.

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Three versions of the Ford Super Duty pickup: the F-250, 450 and 350, which are popular for folks who have to carry lots of tools to a job site, ranked among the top 10 for theft claims frequency.

On more recent versions of the truck, Ford has begun offering more enclosed lockable storage areas to prevent theft, Ford Motor Co. spokesman Wes Sherwood said.

The Ford Super Duty is larger and distinct from the more popular Ford F-150 light-duty truck.

Chrysler spokesman Vince Muniga pointed out that the 300 is popular with car customizers, and frequently targeted for the expensive accessories and wheels owners have added.

Overall, pickup theft claim rates dropped from 2007 through 2009, the HLDI said. That may be due to the increased use of ignition immobilizers on pickups. This technology prevents vehicles from being hotwired and driven away.

Of course, immobilizers don't stop the theft of items inside the vehicles or of accessories like expensive wheels. For instance, the Escalade has long been equipped with engine immobilizers as standard equipment, the Institute pointed out.

The Institute, which is funded by auto insurers, also ranked vehicles with the lowest frequency of theft claims. The Audi A6 topped that list, followed by the Mercury Mariner, the front-wheel-drive 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and the Volkswagen CC. To top of page

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