NEW YORK — The Cadillac Escalade, a top pick of the rich and famous, from Hollywood celebrities to Wall Street executives, is also the favorite choice of thieves.
The luxury sport utility vehicle, which starts at more than $63,000, is the most likely vehicle to be targeted by crooks, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute.
The study, based on insurance claims made for model year 2008 through 2010 vehicles, showed the Escalade is six times as likely to be hit by thieves as the average vehicle, and its overall theft losses are more than 10 times as large.
The rankings are based on vehicles that were stolen, had parts such as stereo systems taken or had other property inside the car snatched.
Matt Moore, a vice president at the institute, says the Escalade gets hit more often because "it's so wildly popular as far as pop culture goes. Watching the TV, you see professional athletes coming in and out of them and other celebrities too. It's a status symbol."
General Motors said it's trying to make the Escalade harder to steal. The SUV currently includes a system to prevent the vehicles from being hot-wired and a steering column lock that makes it more difficult for thieves to push the vehicles away or load them on to flat-bed trucks.
In addition, the 2012 Escalade will include sensors that set off an alarm when they detect a change in angle that would occur if the vehicle is being towed or being jacked up, along with sensors that sound alarms when windows are broken, a new wheel-lock system and an improved steering column lock, GM said.
A total of 10.8 claims were filed for every 1,000 insured Escalades, resulting in average loss payments of $10,555 per claim by insurance companies, the study said.
Pickup trucks are also a favorite of thieves, taking the next four spots in the rankings: the Ford F-250 crew cab four-wheel drive, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab, the Ford F-450 crew cab four-wheel drive; and the GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab. Crew cabs are pickups with a second row of seats.
Moore thinks that many of the pickup theft claims resulted from equipment or other items stolen from truck beds while the vehicles were parked at work sites.
The vehicle least likely to be hit by thieves was the Audi A6 four-wheel drive, a luxury sedan. But its average loss payment per claim was $16,882. That's 60 percent higher than that of the Escalade, according to the study.