) -- Few things feel worse than coming back to where you parked your car and finding thieves have broken into it -- if not stolen it altogether. So, here's a heads-up for U.S. car buyers about which recent models crooks seem to target the most.
"It shouldn't be a deal-breaker if you're thinking about buying one of the cars on this list, but what it should tell you is that you'll want to take some precautions with the vehicle," says Matt Moore of the
Highway Loss Data Institute
, which recently named the 2010-12 models that face the highest theft claims.
The HLDI, a research consortium funded by the insurance industry, compiles its list annually by analyzing theft claims U.S. consumers file with their insurers.
The latest rundown covers claims filed last year for stolen cars, parts taken off of vehicles (typically things such as fancy wheel-and-tire packages) or personal property swiped from inside a driver's ride.
Moore says all of the model atop this year's list are large pickup trucks or sport utility vehicles with open beds that crooks find easy to steal from. The "winners" are also popular with tradesmen, who often leave their rides unattended at construction sites for hours -- the perfect combination for burglars.
"It's easy in general for thieves to steal things out of the back of a pickup, and big pickups are especially used a lot on job sites," Moore says.
Click below to check out the five models at the top of the latest theft list.
Vehicles appear in order of their "claim frequency," the number of theft-related claims filed for every 1,000 insured vehicle years. ("Insured vehicle years" refer to how many of a given model are on the road multiplied by how long each car has been in service. For instance, the HLDI considers 2-year-old cars as accounting for two "insured vehicle years.")
Estimates of hikes in insurance premiums resulting from thefts are calculated by looking at how much firms paid a model's theft victims last year divided by the number of 2010-12 versions of the car that are still on the road.