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Lifestyle & Budget

Bling is still the rage among car thieves

Escalade owners, make sure you buy rental-car coverage.

One out of every 100 of you will lose your car to a thief this year, and if we can hazard a wild guess about your lives, it's that fans of $60,000 Cadillac SUVs probably don't have a bus pass.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an industry association that tracks these sorts of things, today released its 2011 list of most-stolen models, gauged by the frequency and size of their insurance claims. The 2008-2010 Escalade topped the list, stolen at a rate six times that of the average vehicle. The average claim against the owner's comprehensive coverage, the part that covers theft, was $10,555.

The Escalade has topped the IIHS list for a decade.

High-dollar pickup trucks dominate the rest of the top 10, despite the rise of anti-theft technologies such as engine immobilizers that prevent hot-wiring.

“Immobilizers are a good deterrent against joy-riding teenagers, but professional thieves can easily haul away an SUV on a flatbed truck,” says HLDI senior vice president Kim Hazelbaker. “A pickup that can't be driven away is still vulnerable to having tools and cargo snatched from its bed.”

The list of least -targeted (or most-shunned, depending on your point of view) vehicles is topped by the Audi A6 luxury sedan and the Mercury Mariner, a now-defunct small SUV. Each has a claim frequency of 0.5 per 1,000 insured vehicle years.

You'll find the most- and least-stolen cars overall, plus the most- and least-stolen passenger cars, sports cars and luxury cars, below.

Affects your rates? Not that much

The IIHS says its list highlights the models specifically targeted by thieves because it compares the numbers of insured theft claims for a particular model against how many were sold. The National Insurance Crime Bureau's similar-sounding “Hot Wheels” list goes by raw numbers and is led perpetually by some kind of older, ubiquitous Honda or Toyota, the vast majority of which are not insured for theft.

We're not sure that ranking on either list is much of an honor, but it's also not necessarily a red flag for car buyers. Among the dozens of moving parts that make up your car insurance rate, theft isn't a particularly good indicator of how much you'll pay to insure one car versus another.

When we ran the numbers on rates for a 37-year-old driving an Escalade EXT in Fresno, Calif. (long a hotbed of car thievery), the comprehensive portion of the quotes ranged from just $132 to $440. Rather than shopping for a less theft-prone vehicle, Escalade owners are far better served by shopping for another insurance company: We found full-coverage quotes from $1,389 to $2,133 a year.

Comprehensive coverage just isn't a major killer; your own driving record and the specific model's collision history (do they fall apart when tapped?) are much bigger factors.

Below is a peek at the most- and least-stolen vehicles in several categories.

IIHS measures claims frequency in insured vehicle years; one car insured for one year is one insured vehicle year. The claims frequencies below are thefts per 1,000 insured vehicle years.

Least-stolen non-luxury Claims frequency Average loss
Volkswagen Passat CC0.58$7,098
Chevrolet Aveo0.63$7,642
Mini Cooper Clubman0.66$1,883
Volkswagen Eos convertible0.73$9,910
Mazda 30.74$2,758
Mazda 50.75$5,023
Buick Lucerne0.78$6,282
Saturn Aura0.79$3,301
Pontiac Vibe0.79$2,182
Mazda 60.79$3,872
Volkswagen New Beetle0.8$5,027
Mini Cooper0.82$3,103
Honda Odyssey0.82$5,620
Kia Sedona0.86$5,307
Toyota Prius Hybrid0.88$3,720
Hyundai Elantra0.89$5,887
Toyota Sienna 4WD0.9$9,780
Subaru Impreza 4WD0.91$3,899
Volvo S400.91$4,666
Toyota Yaris0.93$3,399
Most-stolen non-luxuryClaims frequencyAverage loss
Chrysler 3007.07$5,509
Chrysler 300 HEMI6.28$8,294
Dodge Charger HEMI5.64$10,158
Nissan Maxima5.23$5,121
Dodge Charger4.76$5,749
Honda Civic Si3.94$8,328
Dodge Challenger3.47$7,141
Honda Accord3.44$5,881
Honda Fit2.97$3,358
Honda Civic Si2.56$8,456
Scion tC2.31$6,001
Mitsubishi Eclipse2.17$6,120
Scion xB2.06$4,971
Dodge Avenger2.05$5,574
Subaru Impreza WRX 4WD2.02$7,722
Chrysler Sebring convertible1.89$7,840
Chevrolet Impala1.85$5,163
Ford Fusion1.79$4,655
Chrysler Town & Country LWB1.78$3,829
Mitsubishi Lancer1.77$6,456
Least-stolen sports and luxuryClaims frequencyAverage loss
Audi A6 Quattro 4dr 4WD0.48$16,882
BMW 5 series 4dr 4WD0.66$12,200
Hyundai Genesis 4dr0.77$9,197
BMW 3 series 4dr 4WD0.79$2,951
Audi A4 Quattro 4dr 4WD0.79$6,028
BMW 3 series 4dr0.81$7,309
Volvo V70 station wagon 4WD0.83$6,197
Cadillac CTS 4dr0.83$8,471
BMW 3 series 2dr 4WD0.84$3,692
Saab 9-3 4dr0.88$5,186
Cadillac CTS 4dr 4WD0.89$6,423
Lexus IS 250 4dr 4WD0.89$7,419
Lexus ES 350 4dr0.92$6,579
Lexus LS 460 4dr0.94$19,456
BMW 5 series 4dr0.95$8,782
BMW 3 series convertible0.97$10,313
Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible0.98$3,640
Lexus GS 350 4dr0.98$11,372
Mercedes Benz C class 4dr 4WD1.02$7,645
Acura TL 4dr1.05$8,309
Most-stolen sports and luxuryClaims frequencyAverage loss
Infiniti G37 2dr5.77$5,754
Lincoln MKS 4dr4.08$7,597
Cadillac DTS 4dr1.97$5,257
Chevrolet Camaro 2dr1.82$7,510
Chevrolet Corvette1.82$12,562
Mercedes Benz S class 4dr LWB 4WD1.78$41,804
Lincoln MKZ 4dr 4WD1.50$8,821
Lincoln MKZ 4dr1.38$7,257
Infiniti G37 4dr 4WD1.34$8,247
Mercedes Benz S class 4dr LWB1.28$18,009
Jaguar XF 4dr1.24$13,647
BMW 3 series 2dr1.23$6,049
Lexus IS 250 4dr1.14$8,829
Mercedes Benz C class 4dr1.13$7,342
Saturn Sky convertible1.13$4,455
Acura TL 4dr1.05$8,309
Mercedes Benz C class 4dr 4WD1.02$7,645
Lexus GS 350 4dr0.98$11,372
Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible0.98$3,640
BMW 3 series convertible0.97$10,313
Highest claim rates overallClaims frequencyAverage loss
Cadillac Escalade (4 versions)10.8$10,555
Ford F-250 crew 4WD9.7$9,496
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew9.2$4,948
Ford F-450 crew 4WD7.9$11,701
GMC Sierra 1500 crew7.3$6,022
Chrysler 3007.1$5,509
Ford F-350 crew 4WD7.0$9,088
Chevrolet Avalanche 15006.4$6,689
GMC Yukon6.4$6,645
Chrysler 300 HEMI6.3$8,294
Lowest claim rates overallClaims frequencyAverage loss
Audi A6 4WD0.5$16,882
Mercury Mariner (2009-10)0.5$1,970
Chevrolet Equinox (2010)0.6$2,069
Volkswagen CC (2009-10)0.6$7,098
Chevrolet Equinox 4WD (2010)0.6$4,870
Lexus RX 350 (2010)0.6$6,084
Saturn Vue0.6$3,747
Chevrolet Aveo (2009-10)0.6$7,642
BMW 5 series 4WD0.7$12,200
Mini Cooper Clubman0.7$1,883
All passenger vehicles 1.7$6,767

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Bling is still the rage among car thieves