Back in May, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), published a report about whole vehicle theft losses from 2016 through 2018 model years, including passenger cars, pickups, SUVs, and vans. The study, which used data of insurance claims gathered from almost 85% of the vehicles in the U.S., is mostly focused on which vehicle classes and models end up costing carriers the most money in terms of payouts, but some of the results are rather interesting, and may even come as a surprise.

Topping the list of the most stolen vehicles are models from Dodge, Infiniti, and GMC, including the Charger Hemi, Challenger Hellcat, Q50, QX80, and the Sierra 1500 crew cab pickup. Moving down the list of other hot models, of the top twenty, just two are from German makes, including the Mercedes-Benz S Class, and the Audi A7 quattro. Models are ranked by relative claim frequency; 100 is an average claim frequency, and three of the aforementioned Dodge and Infiniti vehicles have a value exceeding 500, or five times that of the national average.

On the other hand, the list of vehicles with the lowest relative claim frequency all have values that are just a fraction of those for the worst offenders. According to the study, the least stolen vehicle for the 2016 through 2018 model years is the BMW 3 Series four-door, with a relative claim frequency of just four. Two Tesla vehicles, the Model S and the Model X, are next in line, with relatively claim frequencies of eleven and twelve respectively. Rounding out the top five are the Chevrolet Equinox 4WD and the Buick Encore 4WD, which both have a claim frequency of fifteen. While the total number of actual claims for cars like the Charger, Challenger, and Infiniti models is in the hundreds, the BMW 3 Series and Tesla models can be counted on one hand.

Perhaps even better, of the twenty least stolen models, no fewer than three are BMW models, including the 3 Series with xDrive and the X5, while Volkswagen is the only other German manufacturer to make the list, with the New Beetle having a relative claim frequency of just 63. Subaru also ranks competitively in terms of the least stolen vehicles, while another model of note is the Mazda Miata MX-5 convertible.

There’s no clear answer on why some vehicles are stolen more than others, and it’s important to remember that vehicle theft is also a crime of opportunity in many circumstances. Still, the data clearly points to larger, more powerful and luxurious models being stolen more frequently, criteria that also applies a large number of nicely optioned pickup trucks these days as well. Better security and theft prevention systems play a role as well, with many of the models appearing on the least stolen list offering some of the best protection on the market. It’s also said that some brands, which formerly topped the most stolen list, have pursued improved security, which has been quite effective in reducing the number of theft losses.

Learn more about the study and its methodology here.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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