In Malaysia, they like to steal Protons. In the U.S., it’s the Cadillac Escalade, which has made the top of the theft-loss list (prepared by the Highway Loss Data Institute), for the last six of seven years. In 2005 there were an estimated 1.2 million U.S. vehicle thefts; in 2008, totals were declining, below 1 million.
After the Escalade, the next-most-stolen were the Ford F-250 crew cab, the Infiniti G37 coupe and the Dodge Charger Hemi. HLDI senior vice president Kim Hazelbaker concludes: “Thieves are after chrome, horsepower, and Hemis.”
Well, okay, but what are these car heisters really after? According to a former car thief, their motives include: joyriding, getting a getaway car, committing insurance fraud, selling luxury cars in Europe (beaters in Central and South America) and, most important of all, stripping and reselling parts.
So how does this affect you? First, you will pay higher insurance premiums if you own a large luxury SUV or large pickup. The HLDI says:
Almost 1 of every 4 Escalade theft claims is for $40,000 or more. These vehicles are equipped with standard antitheft ignition immobilizers that are supposed to prevent them from being started without a proper key. The problem, Hazelbaker says, is that “even though Escalades have the latest immobilizer technology, thieves still can put them on flatbeds and haul them away.”
That means exercising common sense: Lock the car, and keep your keys with you. Never leave the vehicle running and unattended. Shut all windows and the sunroof tight. Never leave valuable things visible in the car. Use theft-protection devices, like the Club.
Most car gurus know these things. It’s when we forget to act on them that we get in trouble.
Has your car ever been stolen? If you’re not too embarrassed, tell us about the experience.