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The Cadillac Escalade tops the list in insurance claims for theft for the ninth year in a row.
It's official: the Cadillac Escalade has led the nation in highest insurance claims for theft for the ninth straight year. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Highway Loss Data Institute, four versions of the Cadillac Escalade top the list of 2008-2010 vehicles with the highest theft claims. The Escalade EXT is ranked as the worst, with more than 14 claims per 1,000 insured vehicles, which is eight times the average.
The high-end luxury SUV features 22-inch wheels and tires, mostly customized, that make it very attractive to thieves. The average claim for a theft of an Escalade is $10,555. The big Escalade is followed by three Ford pickups, the F-250, F-350, F-450 with the GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 and two versions of the Chrysler 300 also ranking very high on the theft list. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Audi A6, Chevrolet Equinox, Mercury Mariner and Volkswagen Passat CC were the vehicles with the lowest claim rates.
Automakers have been using engine immobilizers, which have been in use for over a decade, to make stealing vehicles much harder than it used to be. The electronic devices prevent the vehicle from being operated unless the right code is sent by the key. "The immobilizers are a good deterrent against joy-riding teenagers, but professional thieves can easily haul away an SUV on a flatbed truck" said Kim Hazelbaker, the institute's senior vice president. "A pickup that can't be driven is still vulnerable to having tools and cargo snatched from its bed."
In order to combat car thieves, GM is stepping up security features on the upcoming 2012 Cadillac Escalade, which goes on sale in the next two weeks. GM uses cryptographic transponder immobilizers as part of an approach to reduce theft. In 2010, GM added a steering column lock in the Escalade and is upgrading this function for the 2012 model year. GM is also offering two optional sensors in the new Escalade, which include an inclination sensor that will sound an alarm if someone tries to steal the SUV or have it towed away and a second "shock" sensor will sound an alarm if glass is shattered.
Both Ford and Chrysler have upgraded their security measures against car theft as well. For example, Ford also added transponder immobilization systems to all F-250, F-350 and F-450 pickups back in 2007. Chrysler is currenly increasing security in interior components such as navigation systems.