Thieves love late-model Cadillac Escalades enough for them to rank as the most likely-to-be stolen vehicle in America. Professionals can take one in 14 seconds. Why? Some experts say General Motors skimped on a few key parts.
The Escalade has a lot to offer a professional thief. Top-shelf wheels, in-demand air bag and dash parts, and other bits that can be easily stripped and sold, like the one that the Rev. Jesse Jackson used during a visit to Detroit a couple months back.
Like most new cars, GM has attempted to reduce thefts by using security codes on their keys, making it nearly impossible to hot-wire the car. The problem appears to be that in doing so, GM left out a few other measures.
According to experts, most Escalade thieves work around the key chip by bashing in the driver's window, pulling the shifter out of park into neutral, then having an assistant push the SUV to the nearest stripping point. The entire operation can take less than 20 minutes.
Auto thief experts told Detroit's WXYZ-TV that GM had made three key errors in designing the late-model Escalade, as well as the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon that share its mechanical bits: thin glass, the transmission design and the lack of a steering wheel lock, allowing push thieves to steer without a key.
GM said it had reinstalled the steering lock on new Escalades and upgraded the window glass, but apparently the new lock design can be broken once a thief gets inside. More upgrades are supposedly in the works. [WXYZ]