Escalade again listed as favorite among thieves

The Cadillac Escalade has been voted by The Highway Loss Data Institute as the vehicle most likely to be stolen.

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The blinged-out Cadillac Escalade SUV, a favorite of A-listers like Tiger Woods, is once again the vehicle voted most likely to be stolen, according to an insurance industry group.

The F-250 crew cab pickup, Infiniti G37 luxury sedan, Dodge Charger with its high-power HEMI engine and Chevrolet Corvette Z06 round out the list of the top five vehicles most likely to be the subject of insurance theft claims. Least likely targets of thieves are family vehicles like the Volvo S80, Saturn Vue and Nissan Murano, Honda Pilot and Subaru Impreza.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, which is part of the Arlington-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, calculated theft claim rates for vehicles from the 2007-2009 model years. The data reports thefts per insured vehicles on the road.

The Escalade, which starts at $62,495, has ranked as the most-stolen in six of the past seven reports. A theft claim is filed for one out of every 100 insured Escalades, according to the group, and the average insurance payout is $11,934. That compares with an average of $6,883 for all vehicles.

Almost one in every four Escalade theft claims is for $40,000 or more. Escalades are equipped with antitheft ignition immobilizers that prevent them from being started without a special key, but that doesn't prevent some thieves from hauling them away on flatbed trucks, said Kim Hazelbaker, senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute.

"Thieves are after chrome, horsepower and HEMIs," she said.

Large SUVs like the Escalade have the highest overall theft losses, with large pickups second. Hazelbaker said trucks are targeted for various reasons. In addition to their looks, large pickups can be used for work or they might be carrying valuable tools or cargo.

The Institute said the frequency of theft claims for cars and SUVS has been declining since 1998. Pickup thefts also had been on the downswing until 2006, when the Institute noticed an uptick in claims.

Two-door minicars are the least likely group to be targeted.

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, an insurance-funded group, here are the vehicles most and least likely to be targeted by thieves, and the average loss payment per claim, which averaged $6,883 for all passenger vehicles:

MOST LIKELY

--Cadillac Escalade large SUV ($11,934)

--Ford F-250 crew cab pickup ($9,636)

--Infiniti G37 two-door luxury car ($10,324)

--Dodge Charger (with HEMI engine) large car ($10,118)

--Chevrolet Corvette Z06 sports car ($41,229)

--Hummer H2 large SUV ($10,324)

--Nissan Pathfinder/Armada large SUV ($12,458)

--Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 truck ($7,571)

--Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab pickup ($6,814)

--GMC Yukon large SUV ($9,499)

LEAST LIKELY

--Volvo S80 large car ($619)

--Saturn VUE four-wheel-drive midsize SUV ($1,445)

--Nissan Murano midsize SUV ($1,790)

--Saturn VUE midsize SUV ($2,340)

--Honda Pilot midsize SUV ($1,927)

--Subaru Impreza small wagon ($1,85)

--Toyota Prius small car ($2,203)

--Mini Cooper subcompact ($2,134)

--Toyota Tacoma small pickup ($619)

--Toyota Sienna minivan ($2,203)