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Archive for Thursday, August 21, 2003

Report: Cadillac Escalade has highest theft rate

August 21, 2003

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— Thieves broke into Don Massey Cadillac in Lone Tree, Colo., last November and stole seven Escalade sport utility vehicles. The dealership was not alone: Thieves go after the $55,000 SUV at a higher rate than any other vehicle, according to a report by a research group funded by auto insurers.

The report, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reviewed insurance claims for thefts or break-ins for 2000-2002 model year cars, then compared those claims with the total number of insurance policies for each of those vehicles.

Based on theft claims per 1,000 insured vehicles, five of the top 10 vehicles stolen or broken into are SUVs. The Dodge Stratus, ranked second on the list, was the four-door car targeted at the highest rate, according to the institute.

As far as the most frequently stolen vehicles are concerned, the Toyota Camry has kept that dubious distinction for six straight years, according to the Chicago-based CCC Information Systems Inc., which tracks the total number of vehicles stolen.

Camry didn't make it into the Insurance Institute's top 10 list, because the Camry's percentage of theft claims is low compared with the large number of Camrys on the road.

There are fewer Escalades on the road, but the SUVs are four times more likely to be stolen or broken into than the average vehicle, the institute said.

Insurance Institute spokesman Russ Rader said the ratings are helpful for consumers because they may end up paying more to insure a vehicle with a higher likelihood of theft.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's list of vehicles with the highest theft claim rate: The Cadillac Escalade, Dodge Stratus, Mitsubishi Mirage, the Jeep Wrangler, the Lincoln Navigator 2-wheel drive SUV, the Dodge Intrepid, the Lincoln Navigator 4-wheel drive SUV, the Dodge Ram 1500 series pickup, the Ford Expedition and the Chrysler Sebring.

"If your vehicle is on this list, insurance companies are looking at that," he said.

According to the report, the Escalade averaged 10.3 claims per 1,000 insured vehicles, while the Dodge Stratus averaged 8.7 claims. The average number of claims for all vehicles was 2.6.

The Escalade also had the highest average theft losses, with an average loss payment of $167 per insured vehicle, the report said. The Chevrolet Corvette convertible had the second-highest loss payment rate, at $75. The average for all cars was $15.

Cadillac spokesman Kerry Christopher said he did not know why the Escalade had such a high theft rate, noting that the vehicle's horn goes off to deter thieves and the Cadillac had an immobilizer device so it could not be started without the driver's key.

The Escalade also has had standard On-Star navigation since it debuted in 1999. That system makes it easier to recover vehicles after they are stolen, Christopher said.

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