Cadillac Escalade SUV Drives Off As Top Theft Target, Worst Overall Theft Losses

August 22, 2003

According to the latest report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Cadillac Escalade SUV has the most frequent theft claims among 2000-02 model passenger vehicles. Its theft claim frequency is about four times the average for all vehicles.

“The Escalade has both the highest theft claim frequency and the worst overall theft losses – 10 times the average for all vehicles — indicating it’s a top target for thieves,”said Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president. “The Escalade’s theft losses are the highest even though it’s equipped with a standard antitheft ignition immobilizer. These immobilizers have reduced thefts of other vehicles, but we don’t know why they don’t seem to be effective for the Escalade.”

The vehicle that topped last year’s list, the Integra, was redesigned in 2002 and renamed the RSX. So far the RSX doesn’t have the same high rate of theft claims as the Integra.

“Theft investigators believe the old Acura Integra was targeted by car thieves for its parts, including the engine, which then were sold to people who modify Honda Civics,” added Hazelbaker. “These same components also are interchangeable between the RSX and the new Civic. We’ll have to wait and see whether the RSX becomes a target.”

HLDI results are the only reported theft results based on the number of insured vehicles. Information on insurance theft losses published by the National Insurance Crime Bureau and CCC Information Services doesn’t take into account how many of each vehicle are insured, so the most popular vehicles on the road tend to top these organizations’ lists of most-stolen vehicles. In contrast, HLDI identifies vehicles with the worst theft losses by counting the number of claims by make and model relative to the number of each make and model insured, indicating which vehicles are more likely to be targets.

Overall theft losses (stated as average loss payments per insured vehicle year) reflect both how often claims are made for particular vehicles and the cost of the claims. The Escalade tops the list of vehicles with the worst overall theft losses.

Since 1980 overall theft claim frequencies have declined while average insurance payments per claim have increased, although these trends have leveled off in recent years. Some of the decline in claim frequencies and overall losses reflects the increased installation of immobilizing antitheft devices in many new vehicles.

Passenger vehicles with highest theft claim frequencies, 2000-02 models
Make/series Size/type Frequency
(claims per 1,000 insured vehicle yrs.)
Cadillac Escalade 4WD Large SUV 10.3
Dodge Stratus Midsize 4-door car 8.7
Mitsubishi Mirage Small 2-door car 7.2
Jeep Wrangler 4WD Small SUV 7.2
Lincoln Navigator 2WD Large SUV 6.6
Dodge Intrepid Large 4-door car 5.8
Lincoln Navigator 4WD Large SUV 5.7
Dodge Ram 1500 series Large pickup 5.6
Ford Expedition 2WD Large SUV 5.6
Chrysler Sebring 4-door car 5.5
Average for all cars 2.6

Passenger vehicles with highest overall insurance theft losses, 2000-02 models
Make/series Size/type Average loss payment per insured vehicle year
Cadillac Escalade 4WD Large SUV $167
Chevrolet Corvette convertible Small 2-door sports car $75
Lincoln Navigator 4WD Large SUV $71
BMW X5 4WD Midsize SUV $67
BMW 3 series convertible Midsize 2-door luxury car $63
Lincoln Navigator 2WD Large SUV $62
Lexus LX series 4WD Large SUV $61
Chevrolet Corvette Small 2-door sports car $59
Lexus IS 300 Midsize 4-door luxury car $59
Audi A4/S4 Quattro Midsize 4-door car $55
Average for all cars $15

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