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1997 Auto Theft Losses

Utility vehicles repeat with highest theft losses: worst loss result is 160 times higher than best; BMW, GM reduce losses with antitheft devices

Arlington, VA -- April 23, 1997 -- For the second straight year, the two passenger vehicles with the highest insurance losses for theft are the Toyota Land Cruiser and Mitsubishi Montero, both midsize four-wheel-drive utility vehicles. Theft losses for the Land Cruiser are more than 160 times worse than the losses for the car with the best theft experience, the Mercury Sable sedan.

All 10 passenger vehicles with the worst losses are either luxury or sports cars or utility vehicles. The 10 with the best theft results have losses one-fourth or less than the average. Six of the 10 best are from General Motors, and five of them are Buicks.

Long-term theft trends show a declining frequency of insurance claims for thefts and an increasing average loss payment per theft claim. Because these trends offset each other, overall insurance theft losses have changed very little during the past 18 model years.

Special Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) studies show that theft claim frequencies might be declining in part because of increasing availability of sophisticated antitheft devices. "In recent model years," HLDI Senior Vice President Kim Hazelbaker explains, "improved antitheft devices from BMW, General Motors, and others have reduced their theft losses significantly."

Best: 10 passenger vehicles with lowest theft results (100=average)

Model Size Theft Result
Mercury Sable 4-door Midsize car 12
Saab 900 4-door Midsize car 13
Buick Park Avenue 4-door Large car 13
Buick Regal 2-door Midsize car 13
Buick Regal 4-door Midsize car 14
Buick Roadmaster station wagon Large car 15
Volvo 940/960 station wagon Midsize luxury car 18
Chevrolet Caprice station wagon Large car 18
Mercury Tracer station wagon Small car 19
Buick LeSabre 4-door Large car 20

Worst: 10 passenger vehicles with highest theft loss results (100=average)

Model Size Theft Result
Toyota Land Cruiser Midsize utility vehicle 2022
Mitsubishi Montero 4-wheel drive Midsize utility vehicle 1357
Mercedes S-class long wheelbase Large luxury car 1033
Mercedes SL-class convertible Small sports car 1019
Lexus GS 300 Midsize luxury car 695
Lexus LS 400 Large luxury car 552
Lexus SC 300/400 Midsize luxury car 491
Chevrolet Corvette convertible Small sports car 437
BMW 3 Series 2-door Midsize luxury car 433
Chevrolet Corvette Small sports car 416

Note: Theft losses are compared according to relative average loss
payments per insured vehicle year (100 = average). Results for other
passenger vehicle models will be available this fall.

Theft claim frequencies and average loss payments per claim

Source: Highway Loss Data Institute.