Teslas may be the most talked about cars on the road, but they are not the hottest models with auto thieves. In fact, new data shows the top targets are powerful gas-powered cars and pickup trucks.
"None of the models on the most-stolen vehicle list are cheap," said Matt Moore, vice president for the Highway Loss Data Institute, which tracks insurance loss statistics. "Thieves are looking to make money, so they look for the pricier models."
This year, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat had the second highest theft rate among vehicles from model years 2016-2018, according to the study. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for a 2018 Hellcat was $64,295, according to the auto website Edmunds. The average transaction price for many of the most popular pickup trucks is now well over $40,000.
For more than two decades, the institute has reported which vehicles are most and least likely to be stolen. This year, the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X have two of the lowest theft rates, it said.
Moore said one reason the two Tesla vehicles are almost 90% less likely to be stolen than the average car could be that many electric cars are parked in garages or close to homes so that the cars are close to a power supply for recharging batteries.
"Vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity, and electric cars parked in locked garages where they are recharging certainly makes it harder for a thief," he said.
How often a car or truck is stolen does impact how much owners pay for auto insurance. So those models with a higher theft rate are likely to carry a higher insurance premium, especially if the cars are being driven in areas of the country where auto thefts are more common.
Overall, auto thefts are declining in the U.S. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports 773,139 vehicles were stolen in 2017, down 53% from 1991, when auto thefts peaked at 1.66 million vehicles.