By on October 29, 2010

We’ve known that the Cadillac Escalade was America’s most-stolen vehicle, but we never asked why. The answer: GM didn’t put steering locks on a number of Escalade and other GMT9000 Ute model years, and shifters on these models are easily pushed out of “Park.” These weaknesses (and their ineffective fixes) allow thieves to push Tahoes, Denalis and Escalades to a safe spot where parts stripping can be done in a matter of minutes. And as the report details, Onstar is rarely effective at stopping quick snatch-and-strip-style thefts, because the damage is typically already done by the time vehicles are reported stolen. Hats off to WXYZ TV for looking past the statistics and finding the truth behind the Escaladae’s stealability. GM is reportedly working on a new steering column replacement for these vehicles.

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30 Comments on “Gone In 14 Seconds: Why The Cadillac Escalade Is America’s Most-Stolen Vehicle...”

  • avatar

    GM didn’t install a steering column lock in the Colorado/Canyon, either.  Apparently they’re not required, but most cars still have them.
    I dispute the article’s assertion that the ‘Slade is “classy.” Skanks and douchebags really seem to like Escalades and Hummers, and that’s the image I get when I think of those brands.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised that thieves down here hasn’t made a party with them. I guess the it’s-not-a-Toyota factor counts.
    I heard however that the tailgate of the Silverado are in high demand. They’re stupid expensive and stupidly easy to remove.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a double-edged sword–people often want or need to remove the tailgate when hauling cargo.  No-tools removal used to be a selling point, but in a high theft area, it would be a disadvantage.  I think most tailgates have locks that are keyed to the vehicle’s key now.

  • avatar

    Many of these trucks have aftermarket wheels that can cost thousands of dollars per set…its no wonder these trucks are higher up on the list.  Combine this with the weaker defense systems in place and bingo!….#1 on the list.

  • avatar

    I saw the video. You really don’t have the crime rates we in the 3rd world have. I almost laughed when the guy described how the thieves opened the fence. Here the hinges are installed in a way to make that difficult and have the caps welded to avoid that.
    Then, the SUVs don’t seem to have any mechanical theft deterrent device.

    • 0 avatar

      The third world is scary. My cousins battery and speakers were taken pretty quickly right outside his window. Atleast they didn’t break the windowns, considerate folks. From now on he takes his battery and radio inside the house. Good thing his car is a pos.

  • avatar

    In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Dodge SUV and Trucks were hot for being easy to get into. They would steal them right out of Chrysler employee parking lots. Especially the ones with Chrome Plated Aluminum Rims.

  • avatar

    GM is clueless. The Why, is why you don’t see Toyota emblems being worn on a bling chain around someones neck.

  • avatar

    The gangstas and Rap stars of the world are going to be looking for new wheels now that HUMMER has closed up shop, and the Caddy schoolbuses are being stolen by the same hood they rap about.

    Ford should be happy, maybe they’ll start moving Navigators again.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Just set the parking brake. 99% of those thieves would be too frapp’in dumb to figure that one out!…LOL

  • avatar

    Quasi-investigative journalism – I thought it had ceased to exist! Very good and interesting clip.

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the early 90s Camrys, the doors opened and car turned on with most any key. My friends loved taking those for rides. Once took one from a guy working at Mcdonalds and drove it around drive thru.

  • avatar

    Who wants to steal that pos anyway?
    The rims ok, but the car???

  • avatar


    So that steering wheel lock plate (shown in the video) which they just put back in looks like the one they had been using for decades since the introduction of the locking column in the late 1960s, and it’s easily defeated by giving the steering wheel a strong jerk – it either cracks the plate or strips out the teeth on the splined portion that mates with the steering shaft, defeating the lock.  FAIL.  Every veteran car thief knows that trick on the older GMs. 

    The fact that the shifter lock can be easily defeated is another big fail.  No way are they going to push a vehicle away that has the parking pawl engaged in the automatic tranny.

    Yes folks, we now live in a world where we have “progressed” past the need for common sense and now expect electronic devices and software to perform miracles (“why do we need to lock the steering wheel, the vehicle can’t be started, and it has Onstar just in case it does get stolen”).  Leave it to crack-fueled thieves to find a stunningly simple low-tech workaround!

    I remember a few years’ back arriving at one of the rental car agencies at LAX and they had an Escalade parked right out in front – I laughed as I walked by, no way would I want to leave that parked in a big city!

  • avatar

    Whatever needs doing to establish and maintain ones’ “street cred” compels one to perform actions and take steps as required by various sub-cultures within the USA.
    Failure to accept those sub-cultures is proof positive of bigotry and an unAmerican failure to embrace multi-culturalism and hatred in general and a disgusting-to-the-PC mob lack of advocating a diversity-is-our-strength belief system.
    But, hey, it’s a semi-free country and I am merely a nothing, a nobody, a shanty dwelling Disgruntled Old Coot from an era left behind and I didn’t even own a CD player until many years after the formats general adoption by the masses of consumers and… and.. I still read…. gasp… books!!!!!!!!
    I am so ashamed of myself.

  • avatar

    So the lesson is ‘never leave your grill in your ‘Sclade’.

  • avatar

    How doesn’t GM benifit every time an Escalade gets stolen? Not to mention all the Escalade (extended) warranties that die if they are a total-loss. Bonanza!

  • avatar

    Before buying any car, ask your insurance company for a quote.

  • avatar

    I know where the stolen goods are going – they’re being sold to the repair shops to fix the same cars from which they were taken.
    That’s no joke – this old trick was used by Moe Percan in NYC many years ago who had a huge business stealing airbags from cars, and then selling them ‘cheap’ to the repair shops. He was able to acquire the right make, model, and color for nearly any car… overnight, and even had a web site for DIY repairs. This was before airbags were serialized and tagged.

  • avatar

    Yo. Yo. Yo.
    ‘Da Excalade is da favorite of da low-level dopeman (ie, the baller).
    As such, combined with GM’s never-present level of a-developmentallydisabled-6-year-old-could-drive- this-away-in-30-seconds-security, you know what is going to happen.
    While the dude who moves a kilo a week knows to be, umm, restrained in his daily vehicle choices, his underling thinks that an Ex rollin’ through da hood is cool.  While ’tis to the other slangers, tends to draw unwanted LEO attention….
    Regardless. Folks, we are just talkin’ ’bout another pathetic POS badge-engineered Caddy. It does not register in the enthusiast realm (save for the CTS-V).

  • avatar

    In my subdivision there are 3 Escalades driven by … Moms! So not all S’ah’lade drivers are dope dealers. There is also a sharp Hummer H2 driven by a Mom … a hot Mom to boot!

    • 0 avatar

      Fair enough they aren’t all slingin’ caine. But every single xcalade owner I have ever met was the ‘white trash with money’ demo. Regardless of theire skin color.
      In your case “Real Housewives” is just another tag for the same demographic.

  • avatar

    “Gone In 14 Seconds: Why The Cadillac Escalade Is America’s Most-Stolen Vehicle…”

    1) Thieves, as a class, have bad taste
    2) Escaladers leave their keys in, just hoping for the insurance award.

  • avatar

    Only natural that the Escalade is reviled here. Most of the naysayers can’t afford one and are envious while the remainder are racist and have been schooled (TTAC) to hate GM. Next topic please…

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