Posts Tagged ‘Saturn’

Thieves may not want your Prius or your Volvo; but if you have a big, blinged-out SUV, watch out – they want your ride.

The annual Highway Loss Data Institute’s report on the most and least stolen cars is out again. The HLDI is an insurance-funded group that aggregates loss data from the participating insurance companies. The latest results are for the 2007-2009 model years.

The 2009 Cadillac Escalade is a thief's favorite

As in the past, the most stolen vehicle is the Cadillac Escalade. The Escalade has an average loss of a whopping $11,934. I’m sure the insurance rates are adjusted accordingly. It’s interesting to note that General Motors’ vehicles account for six of the Top Ten.

  • Chevrolet Corvette Z06
  • Hummer H2 (the gigantic one)
  • Chevrolet Avalanche
  • Chevrolet Silverado -1500 crew cab
  • GMC Yukon

I can see the interest in the Corvette; but you have to have a taste for gigantic trucks for the others. The work trucks listed probably have valuable tools on board in addition to the parts.

2009 Corvette Z06. Love the exterior look, don't love the interior

Oddly, Nissan has two entries in the top ten too: The Infiniti G37 coupe (based on the Nissan 370Z) and the Nissan Pathfinder/Armada large SUVs. Who knew anyone was buying the Armada let alone stealing it?

The Infiniti G37 coupe is a low volume luxury coupe – something you don’t normally see on a list like this. I have no idea why car thieves want it. Maybe it is modified for drifting or street racing.

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Coupe is sleek - but not a drifter

The Ford F-250 crew cab pickup Dodge Charger (with the Hemi V8) round off the Top Ten.

There are a couple common links here. First most of the cars and trucks have large engines that can be ripped out and resold. Ditto for the seats, and other parts. The second link is that many of these cars and trucks are often blinged out with lots of chrome aftermarket parts and gigantic, expensive wheel and tire upgrades. Those things are easy to strip out of a stolen car and sell the on the car parts black market.

Your friendly auto body repair place is supposed to use new parts on your car; however, many cut costs and buy the black market parts while still charging you or your insurance company for the new parts. This practice is commonly referred to as “insurance fraud.”

The thieves and chop shops are getting pretty sophisticated. Even though modern vehicles have complex, multifaceted anti-theft devices, smart keys, and engine immobilizers, the thieves and their accomplices just pull the whole vehicle up on the back of a flatbed truck. They even know how to thwart the electronic lockout devices and reprogram the code when necessary.

All of the listed GM vehicles have OnStar, the two-way communication and emergency service GM owns and has promoted in its vehicles for more than a decade. OnStar is GPS-equipped and can be used to locate a stolen car. So the first thing the law-breakers need to do is disable the OnStar system or do the snatch, strip and dump so fast that the owner doesn’t have time to call OnStar to locate the vehicle.

In the past, some of the most common family sedans were at the top of the list. Cars like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Chevy Impala. Those were stolen because there were a gazillion of them on the road that the demand for repair parts, particularly cheap black market parts, was quite high.

The shift to more profitable horsepower and bling has been developing over the past decade, and this latest list confirms that.

So how about the cars that the thieves don’t want? The Volvo S80 tops the list. The average loss on an S80 is only $619. Volvo must have very cautious, conservative drivers. The sad part is that Volvo had to defend it’s flagship by attributing the low loss rate to its excellent security system. Right.

The 2009 Volvo S80 - not very exciting for a "flagship"

Volvo sold only 4,190 S80 units for the first six months of 2010 and sales are falling as customers wait and see that happens once the Chinese car company, Geely, takes control of Volvo from Ford.  Volvo S80 owners don’t adorn their cars with large wheels and lots of bling. In short, they are anonymous.

There is also good news for the thousands of smug Prius owners in LA. Sure you bought the car to express your love of the environment and to prove your “green” bona fides. Sure it sounds like and is as dull as a refrigerator to drive. But it seems that thieves don’t like it. The complex parallel hybrid drive system and monolithic dashboard make it a nightmare to steal and chop up. And as the battery packs get older, they become worthless.

A 2009 Toyoa Prius. I'm sick of seeing them everywhere in LA

The Japanese dominate the lower echelon, picking up seven of the bottom ten. I guess no one wants the Toyota Sienna minivan, the Toyota Tacoma small pickup, the Subaru Impreza wagon, the Nissan Murano midsize SUV or the Honda Pilot midsize SUV.

I’d forgotten about the Saturn Vue small SUV. It seems that the thieves have too. The Vue accounts for two models (front drive and four-wheel drive) of the Bottom Ten.

The Bottom Ten is rounded out by the MINI Cooper. As an owner of a MINI, I’m glad to hear it. It may be that there are so few on the road (you wouldn’t know it by driving in LA) that the parts aren’t in demand on the black market. It also could be that a thief would have as much trouble getting it to unlock as I do.

A 2009 Subaru Impreza - It doesn't inspire theft, does it?

My philosophy on stolen cars is simple: Fully-insure your vehicle, don’t leave any valuables inside or visible, park in a safe location and lock your car. If it is stolen, or trashed, you’re covered. If it’s a classic that really can’t easily be replaced then store it in your garage or secure carpark. Don’t worry, be happy, right?