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5 Vehicles You Love and Car Thieves Hate

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Thieves steal a car in America every 43.7 seconds on average, but here's a look at five models you can buy that the bad guys rarely bother with.

"These vehicles are less vulnerable," says Matt Moore of the Highway Loss Data Institute, which recently released its latest annual list of cars that crooks target the most and least frequently.

The list covers claims filed last year for stolen cars, parts taken off of vehicles (typically expensive items such as airbag systems) or personal property taken from inside a cabin.

Ironically, the HLDI -- a research consortium funded by the insurance industry -- found that upscale models make up many of the vehicles with the lowest theft-claim rates.

Moore speculates as to why:

"Luxury vehicles are probably more likely to be kept in a [home] garage overnight and parked in a [public] garage when their owners are at work during the day," he says. "As a consequence, they're less vulnerable."

HLDI figures also show that crossover sport utility vehicles account for the lion's share of models with super-low theft rates. Moore thinks that's partly because such models are popular with suburbanites who likely have home garages.

But he adds that even upscale crossovers often cost less than high-end sports cars or fancy pickup trucks, making them less desirable to thieves.

"The penalties are presumably the same if you're caught stealing a brand-new Cadillac Escalade or a brand-new [crossover SUV]," he says. "So, you probably want to steal something that's worth a lot more money."

Click below for a rundown of the five models the HLDI found had the lowest theft claims of any vehicles in 2012. (Or, click here to check out cars with the highest theft rates.)

Figures refer to 2010-12 model-year cars only, and 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 how much thefts boost a vehicle's insurance premiums refer to the total amount that insurers paid a model's theft victims last year divided by how many 2010-12 versions of the car are still on the road.

Fifth-best vehicle for avoiding thefts: Toyota Matrix
Claims rate:
Claims rate: 0.408 for every 1,000 vehicle years

Moore thinks thieves take a pass on the Matrix primarily because the Toyota (TM - Get Report) is popular with suburban moms who have garages, making it harder for crooks to notice the car and/or steal it.

Besides, the Matrix is a small, station-wagon-like hatchback that Moore figures few self-respecting car thieves want.

"When I think about the kind of vehicles that get stolen a lot, station wagons aren't it," he says.

All told, the Matrix's theft rate of 0.408 claims for every 1,000 vehicle years is 66% below the U.S. average for all cars of 1.2 reported incidents per 1,000 vehicle years. So thefts boost Matrix owners' insurance bills by only around $3 a year vs. about $8 for the typical U.S. car.

Alas, paying customers apparently haven't thought that much of the Matrix, either. Toyota has discontinued to model for 2014 amid lackluster sales, although used versions (and possibly some unsold 2013s) are still available.

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