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Auto Theft Report Suggests Car Thieves Like the Big Three


General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler can all claim cars in the most stolen vehicle list.

Car thieves are seeking greater seat and cargo capacity.

Then again, perhaps car thieves are attracted to larger towing capacity for transporting drugs or better off-road capability for that advantage during police chases. They may struggle internally with the fuel inefficiency and environmental impact but find ways to justify their choice in order to offset that feeling of stealer's remorse. Whether a car thief's reasons for choosing an SUV are "valid" or not, if it's what they want to steal and they have the means, it's what should be in their garage -- or stripped-down under an overpass.

Let us assume that's the bottom line among car thieves who overwhelmingly favor SUVs to sedans or midsized cars, according to a new Highway Loss Data Institute report ranking the most stolen vehicles in the US. "Sedate family cars and fuel sippers aren't on the hot list," said HLDI senior VP Kim Hazelbaker. "Thieves are after chrome, horsepower and Hemis."

A bright spot in the dismal American automotive industry in which sales remain at below-historical-levels, thieves across the country, in addition to wanting bigger cars, are demonstrating their patriotism by stealing American. The Big Three can all claim cars in the most stolen vehicle list: General Motors' very own Cadillac Escalade continues to top the list for the tenth consecutive year, Ford's (F) F-250 crew 4-wheel-drive pickup comes in second place, and Chrysler's Dodge Charger HEMI takes a not-too-shabby number four, trailing the Infiniti G37.

The insurance industry group's list reflects insurance-theft losses for 2007-2009 passenger vehicles and finds that the Escalade, with its theft rate of 10.8 per every 1,000 vehicles, remains the car thief's vehicle of choice (spinning rims or not). The SUV has consistently ranked worst in overall theft losses and, with an average claim of $11,934 (nearly one in four claims exceeding $40,000), the Escalade boasts average yearly losses more than seven times the average for all passenger vehicles.

At $82 in annual theft payments per insured vehicle, very large SUVs incur the highest overall theft losses compared to the $14 average payment for passenger vehicles. The Escalade EXT 4-door 4-wheel-drive demands theft payments of $146, nearly twice the cost of its fellow SUVs. What a steal!

You know the auto-theft bar has been raised when the common car thief is outsmarting the latest in automotive security-system technology. The immobilizer anti-theft system, which comes standard in the Escalade, is apparently serving as little deterrent since criminals are simply towing the SUVs away on flatbed trucks.

Not to be overlooked, the Hummer H2, the mother of all SUVs, also made the list, as did the similarly gas-guzzling Nissan Pathfinder Armada, the Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 and Silverado 1500 crew, and GMC Yukon. Right smack in the middle of the list was the newcomer, and suspiciously undersized (relatively speaking), Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Proving that car thieves haven't completely lost their sexy, sporty groove, nearly two of every 1,000 insured Vettes were whisked away from their owners at an average claim cost of $41,229.

While the preferences of the US car buyer and US car stealer stand in stark contrast, there's a little bit of overlap. Generally speaking, the top-selling, practical Toyota (TM) Camry and Honda (HMC) Civic don't play well with the thieving set. But the two groups can get together on two models; of the most stolen vehicles, the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-Series actually topped Forbes' best-selling cars of 2008 list. Thief favorites the Hummer H2 and Nissan Armada, on the other hand, were among the worst-selling cars.

The US kidnapper remains in his own unique vehicle preference category with a tendency toward vans of various makes and models -- as long as they're white.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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