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Forget Tesla, thieves are targeting powerful cars and pickups

Key Points
  • Tesla vehicles are almost 90% less likely to be stolen than the average car, according to a new report from Highway Loss Data Institute.
  • The most likely cars to be stolen are powerful gas-powered cars and pickup trucks, which tend to be pricey.
  • 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.
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New study determines which cars are most likely to be stolen

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.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
Source: Fiat Chrysler

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.

Most stolen vehicles, 2016-2018 model years

  1. Dodge Charger HEMI
  2. Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
  3. Infiniti Q50 4-door
  4. Infiniti QX80
  5. GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab
  6. Dodge Challenger
  7. Nissan Maxima
  8. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab
  9. Chrysler 300 4WD
  10. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Source: HLDI

2017 Infinity Q50
Source: Infinity

Least stolen vehicles, 2016-2018 model years

  1. BMW 3 Series 4-door
  2. Tesla Model S 4WD
  3. Tesla Model X 4WD
  4. Chevrolet Equinox 4WD
  5. Buick Encore 4WD
  6. Subaru Legacy (with EyeSight)
  7. GMC Acadia
  8. Subaro Forester (with EyeSight)
  9. GMC Acadia 4WD
  10. Volkswagen New Beetle

Source: HLDI

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