Think twice before making the F-250 your next workhorse: Ford's Super Duty truck has the highest theft rate among all vehicles manufactured between 2010 and 2012.
The Cadillac Escalade held the throne since 2003, but researchers from the Highway Loss Data Institute said the change might be due to the SUV's waning popularity as much as its newer antitheft technology.
Some of those heightened security advancements, most notably the installation of ignition immobilizers, could also be the reason theft rates in general have fallen recently. This particular feature is less common in pickups, which as a group tend to be stolen more often.
But the F-250 became the most stolen vehicle despite ignition immobilizers installed on 2010 to 2012 models.
According to the institute's findings, seven theft insurance claims were filed for every 1,000 insured F-250s. Many claims, however, could have resulted from theft of equipment or other belongings out of truck beds. Incident data didn't distinguish between thefts of the vehicle itself, its parts or its contents.
Researchers have to assume, then, that the sharp decline in average loss payment for Escalade claims -- $6,508 this year compared with $11,934 in 2007-2009 Escalades -- means fewer thefts of the entire car. Before a steering column lock was added in 2010, thieves could tow away Escalades even with the standard ignition immobilizer. The 2012 model year added a sensor that triggers an alarm when the vehicle's angle is changed.
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew, Chevy Avalanche 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 crew came in just below the F-250 as vehicles most likely to be targeted by thieves. The Escalade 4WD held sixth place this year at 5.5 claims for every 1,000 registrations, about half its rate in 2009 and 2010.
The Dodge Journey 4WD had the lowest claim frequency – 0.4 per 1,000 registrations. The Lexus HS 250 hybrid 4-door had the lowest average payment per claim – $2,226 to the Journey's $5,016.