The pilferage of pickups

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Pickups are a group to watch. Though in many cases it’s tough to pinpoint exactly why a vehicle becomes a theft target, investigators tell us big work trucks like the Ford F-250/350, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Dodge Ram 2500 are attractive not only because of the vehicles themselves but also because of the tools and cargo they carry.” –Kim Hazelbaker, senior vice president, Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI)

It’s interesting to note that on the top 10 passenger vehicles stolen in the U.S. that are one to three years old two are large crew-cab pickups. This is according to information tracked by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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The group found that the rate at which people file insurance claims for theft is highest for versions of the 2007-09 Cadillac Escalade – a luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) – followed by the Ford F-250 crew pickup, Infiniti G37 luxury car, and Dodge Charger with a HEMI engine, with the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab ranked number nine of the top 10 list. Theft rates for these models are three to five times as high as the average for all stolen vehicles, HLDI said.

“Sedate family cars and fuel sippers aren't on the hot list,” noted Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI’s senior vice president. “Thieves are after chrome, horsepower, and HEMIs.”

Overall theft losses compiled by HLDI take into account not only the rate at which insurance claims are filed but also the size of the payments for claims – and most of the vehicles with the highest overall theft losses are SUVs and large pickups.

The vehicle group with the highest overall theft losses ($82 in theft payments per year) is very large luxury SUVs. Losses for these vehicles are nearly 6 times as high as the $14 average for all passenger vehicles. Very large pickups have the second highest overall theft losses, at $57 per insured vehicle year, and 2-door “mini-cars” have the lowest at $4 per insured vehicle year.

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Overall, theft losses for pickup trucks climbed steadily between 1999 and 2006 as the U.S. economy boomed, HLDI said, but now are decreasing. Still, as a group these vehicles have losses that are at least twice those of cars and SUVs, the report noted.

Looking at longer-term trends, since 1998 the frequency of theft claims for cars and SUVs has declined while average insurance payments per claim have increased.

Frequencies have dropped the most for SUVs, declining from 4.9 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years in 1998 to 2.4 in 2008. (HLDI noted that that an insured vehicle year is one vehicle insured for one year, two for six months each, etc.)

For pickups, the downward trend in claim frequencies that began in 1998 reversed in 2001 and increased through 2006. Meanwhile, average insurance payments per theft claim increased the most for pickups, the group said. SUVs previously had the highest average payments per claim until 2005, when results for pickups overtook those for SUVs.

All I can say is ... ouch! Better keep your pickups locked up tight and under a watchful eye when you can!

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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