By on August 1, 2019

After an eternity of seeing the Honda Accord and Civic topping lists of America’s most-stolen cars, tastes have finally evolved. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute’s list of vehicles most likely to be stolen, Hemi-equipped Dodge Challengers and Chargers are now the ride of choice for automotive miscreants. Interestingly, bandits seem to prefer larger vehicles on the whole — with full-sized pickups and large-engined cars topping the charts.

However, there are a couple items that need to be sorted out before we progress. You’ll probably continue seeing Accords, Corollas, Civics, and F-Series pickups on subsequent most-stolen lists. Their volume alone makes them popular targets and any study going by sheer numbers is bound to include them. But the HLDI report quantifies automobiles by their relative risk using insurance data, suggesting its big-boy season for car thieves. 

Isolating vehicles by the 2016-18 model years, the Highway Loss Data Institute said the Dodge Charger was the whip pilferers found most tempting. Song long as it was equipped a V8, the outlet said it had a claim frequency of 544 — over five times the 100-point average.

It was followed by Challenger SRT Hellcat (529) and Infiniti Q50 (525). But there’s a sizable dip in popularity after that, with the Infiniti QX80 (422) receiving a take rate four just times higher than the industry average. The rest of the at-risk pack shook down as follows:

GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab (393)
Dodge Challenger (358)
Nissan Maxima (351)
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab (320)
Chrysler 300 AWD (293)
Mercedes-Benz S-Class long wheelbase (291)
Dodge Charger AWD (274)
Dodge Durango AWD (271)
Land Rover Range Rover (271)
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab 4WD (269)
Dodge Charger (266)
Nissan Titan crew cab short bed (250)
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 double cab (248)
GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab 4WD (241)
Audi A7 AWD (239)
Infiniti QX80 AWD (236)

“The models most likely to be stolen tend to be powerful, pricey or pickups, but vehicle theft is also a crime of opportunity,” said HLDI Senior Vice President Matt Moore. “Better security features on all vehicles would be the best way to address the problem.”

Apparently, that did the trick for Cadillac’s Escalade. The study noted that the SUV previously dominated its rankings of vehicles popular with thieves, adding that General Motors implemented improved security features since 2015. Noteworthy additions were its glass breakage sensors, motion detectors and an inclination sensor that triggers an alarm if someone tries to take the wheels off, tow the vehicle or lift it onto a flatbed.

We think the HLDI is onto something about crimes of opportunity. Several of these are cars you wouldn’t be surprised to see sitting outside of someone’s garage or parked on the street in a bad neighborhood. I’m talking to you, Chrysler 300 and Nissan Maxima.

In fact, the study even mentions the low theft rate of Tesla vehicles and suggests it may have something to do with their being garaged overnight for charging purposes. But the Model S and X were only the second and third least likely to be stolen. Top honors actually went to the BMW 3 Series (netting an index score of just 4). The rest of the safe list was loaded with vehicles nobody would want to steal in the first place, with the only exceptions being the Honda Odyssey, BMW X5, and Mazda MX-5 Miata.

You may have a differing opinion, however, and are welcome to check out the study for yourself at the Highway Loss Data Institute’s website.

 

[Image: FCA]

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26 Comments on “Stolen Car Study Shows Thieves Now Have Better Taste...”


  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Conversely, trashy cars appeal to trashy people. Honda dropped from the list because the cars they sold with crummy security are now more than twenty years old.

  • avatar
    TimK

    My car nut brother had so many Mustangs stolen, his insurance company finally said no más. The thieves couldn’t care less about his wife’s Jeep parked nearby.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Want to keep your car from getting stolen? Drive a stick.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Not totally unrelated, but the vaunted Honda legendary reliability, build quality, and component quality is now dead and buried.

    In these respects, Honda has hit the pavement hard, as if taking a dive off a 50 story building.

    It begins with poor quality interior materials, has some rattles and creaks, offers up atrocious paint quality that’s as easy to chip as a Klondike Bar, involves A MASSIVE OIL-FUEL DILUTION PROBLEM IN ITS 1.5 LITER ***AND 2.0 LITER*** TURBOCHARGED ENGINES (in everything from Civics to CR-Vs to Accords and more, including Acura vehicles), throws in some suspension problems and glass transmissions for good measure, but doesn’t end there…

    Honda is no longer Honda. It happened slowly, then all of a sudden.

    An immediate name change to Homda Motor Company, LLC, and the establishment of a Quality Control Monitoring Facility based in mainland China is now a requirement.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      I think you are right about the Honda oil dilution issue. Apparently there is no “fix” for it due to the design. I don’t think you will see these current Hondas hold up like the old ones. Sometimes the enemy of good is better. I was really surprised at the extent at which Honda rolled out these engines in several different models at once (Civics, Accord, CRV). I think on the base CRV you could still get the non-turbo engine. If so, that’s the direction to go it seems.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      Sorry that no one can build a car as desirable and reliable as a Dodge Charger or Buick Lacrosse. There are problems in the industry as a whole as all car makers are trying to get the mandated 42 MPG or more.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      I’m on my third Civic for being an inexpensive daily driver. Just after 100k miles, the AC compressor goes out, and a rebuilt was $1300. Then one of the two engine mounts went bad. Also, the paint on the wheel covers peals off (time for a third set). These are things I’d expect from a Chrysler product…

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    That’s another reason to drive a minivan (Sienna for me). I could leave it run with the key in it and no one would want it.

    A nod to Verbal’s statement about stick shifts; I would like to see the breakdown on 6 speeds vs automatics stolen (Challenger may be the only one on that list with a manual).

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    Interesting that Tesla is conspicuous by its absence.

    Maybe there is honour among thieves after all.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “the study even mentions the low theft rate of Tesla vehicles and suggests it may have something to do with their being garaged overnight for charging purposes.”

      For one thing, you don’t have to garage a Tesla to charge it. The real reason is that they all have built-in tracking. You can also set up a notification that goes off if the car is unplugged.

      Edit: The study actually says: “Their low theft rate may be related to the fact that, as electric vehicles, they are usually parked in garages or close to a house to be near a power supply. ”

      Okay, that makes more sense. Next time, maybe post the entire quote from the article.

      • 0 avatar
        loner

        Interesting that this data applies specifically to “whole car” thefts, where insurance paid out a sum roughly equivalent to the book value of the car.

        I’d really like to see the data that pertains to thefts that were recovered, where a full payout was not required.

      • 0 avatar
        thejohnnycanuck

        Well thank you for pointing this out. Obviously I didn’t read that bit. Perhaps if this site had a comment format from this century I might have had a chance to correct this egregious error in judgement.

        Have a nice day and best of luck on your next reprimand.

  • avatar
    Best_Ever

    I wouldn’t call it better taste…because well, just LOOK..but rather a faster, easier payoff.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Stupid question… but why would you steal a Hellcat?

    Generally, I though the invisible, plentiful vehicles were the most commonly stolen (like Sierra 1500s) since they could be chopped and parted out. Is there really that much of a market for hot Hellcats, or in that case are we talking about theft for the purpose of joyriding?

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      Shoved into a shipping container and sent off to somewhere in Eastern Europe or Central Asia where law enforcement is lax and easily bribed?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I’m guessing most aren’t stolen to use as daily drivers, unless maybe after a VIN ‘wash’ or something of the sort. Or the Hellcats and devil cars are likely joyrides then ‘ditch’ (often not figuratively speaking).

      But it likely more often depends on what’s needed or “ordered” by the black-market specifically.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I agree that many of those types of cars get shipped overseas or to Mexico. I know that there was a time when it wasn’t unusual to see “police” cars in Mexico that were wearing US plates and were obviously stolen. Whether that is because the theft ring is giving them cars to keep them quiet or the police is taking the cars and calling them theirs.

      Or people are stealing them for the power train and the rest is either cut up or dumped on the side of the road.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The engines probably get some good money for hot rod projects.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Glad none of my vehicles are on that list. I do have one vehicle with a manual which as someone stated above makes a perfect anti-theft device.

  • avatar

    “Top honors actually went to the BMW 3 Series (netting an index score of just 4).”

    How low BMW have fallen! Apparently it does not make desirable car anymore. Even thief do not care. On the other hand I am deeply insulted that my Fusion doesn’t get stolen also.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    It makes sense that supercharged hemi’s would be a target for thieves. That drivetrain could be put into everything from muscle cars to pickups to Jeeps. I bet that those cars are easy to steal.

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    First, these are 2016 to 2018 model years. Whole cars, meaning no joy rides unless totaled. And rates, not numbers.

    The amateur car thief is outta luck. The old method would produce the old list. 20 year old Hondas and Toyotas. From the article, not my brilliance. Amateurs can presumably still defeat anti-theft on 20 year old cars.

    Amateurs wanting new vehicles have to hijack them. A scary thought.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I like this HLDI methodology, because it looks at “claims per insured vehicle year” (i.e., it adjusts for selling rates).

    Some of the ranking is explained by geography and anti-theft features. Still, it is useful data (potentially).

    If I ran a car company, I would have some bright staffer give me a list of the vehicles in my current product portfolio which:
    – Had low rates on this study (no one wants to steal them)
    – Had low 36-month residuals from ALG (they don’t hold their value in the used car market)
    – Had low segment share (they don’t sell that well as new)

    Then I would start asking some hard questions.


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