The Ford F-250 has the highest rate of car insurance theft claims among 2010-12 model year vehicles, knocking the Cadillac Escalade from the top spot that it had claimed for years, according to a new report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

The report did not separate theft of entire cars from theft of vehicle parts or items from inside the vehicle. The HLDI said that some of the theft claims for the F-250, a pickup, may have involved equipment stolen from the vehicle’s truck bed.

The HLDI said the Escalade is likely seeing fewer theft claims because of stronger antitheft technology and fading sales figures.

Not counting the latest report, variants of the Escalade had been atop the HLDI theft claim rankings for every year since 2003.

“General Motors has put a lot of effort into new antitheft technology, so that may help explain the decline in the Escalade’s theft rate,” Matt Moore, HLDI’s vice president, said in a statement. “On the other hand, sales of the Escalade have fallen in recent years, so there may be less of a market for stolen Escalades or Escalade parts.”

The 2010-12 model cars and their vehicle type with the highest claim rates for theft are:

  1. Ford F-250 crew 4WD (very large pickup)

  2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew (large pickup)

  3. Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 (very large SUV)

  4. GMC Sierra 1500 crew (large pickup)

  5. Ford F-350 crew 4WD (very large pickup)

  6. Cadillac Escalade 4WD (large luxury SUV)

  7. Chevrolet Suburban 1500 (very large SUV)

  8. GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab (large pickup)

  9. GMC Yukon (large SUV)

  10. Chevrolet Tahoe(large SUV)

The frequency of theft claims was measured per 1,000 insured vehicles. For the F-250, seven per 1,000 insured vehicles saw a theft claim, which was six times the average for all passenger vehicles.

Other trends included large pickups and large SUVs seeing higher theft claim rates than other types, according to the HLDI, which added that claim rates for thefts are dropping “in general.”

[Data from the National Highway Safety Administration] (NHTSA) show that a motor vehicle is stolen in the U.S. every 44 seconds, with a little more than half of those vehicles eventually recovered.

A preliminary look at the number of annual car thefts nationwide in 2012 showed the first uptick in years, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

But NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN) that the increase was likely not a long-term trend that could undo nearly a decade of falling theft figures.

The HLDI’s theft report is set apart from other rankings because they are based on the number of insured vehicles on the road rather than the total number of vehicles.

Antitheft Tech a Reason for Falling Figures, Institute Says

But like the HLDI report, Scafidi also said he believes antitheft technology is a reason that car thieves are increasingly deterred from thefts.

Scafidi told OAIN that such technology will likely improve and push theft figures down further.

The Institute highlighted ignition immobilizers as a reason the overall drop in theft rates. The antitheft device thwarts a thief from hotwiring a car. Other technologies mentioned in the report include the inclination sensor, which sets off a car alarm at changes in angle of the vehicle.

Insurers look favorably on antitheft technology, with some offering [discounts on coverage] for vehicles equipped with such features.

Auto Theft Group Warns Against ‘Brazen’ Criminals

But stronger antitheft technology doesn’t mean that car thieves are stopping their criminal activity altogether. Some thieves are adapting.

For instance, as keys have become more advanced, criminals have turned their attention to [acquiring key codes] for newer model cars.

And if all else fails in the face of advanced antitheft technology, carjacking is always a reliable fallback for a criminal. A Michigan group fighting auto thefts released a report on what it called more “brazen” approaches to vehicle thefts, including carjackings in which a criminal steals the key directly from the car owner.

Carjackers often use gas stations and parking lots as sites for their crimes, according to the group.

Photo courtesy of © Ford Motor Company