Americans love German luxury cars.
That's both the good news, and the bad news, from a report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (opens in PDF), which warns that while car buyers crave the distinction of sporting an elite BMW or Mercedes hood ornament on their vehicle, car thieves also like these brands. Between 2009 and 2012, fully half of the top 10 most-stolen luxury car models in America were of German make -- BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes, specifically.
Japanese models from Infiniti (Nissan's luxury division), Acura (Honda's (NYSE:HMC) upper echelon), and Lexus (Toyota's (NYSE:TM)) made only one appearance each on the NICB list that included vehicles in compact, mid-sized, and premium classes. Ford's (NYSE:F) Lincoln division, and General Motors' (NYSE:GM) Cadillac, likewise landed on the list only one time apiece. BMW landed three models on the top 10 list (the C Class, the E Class, and the S Class) and BMW had two (the 3 Series and 5 Series).
Safety in (big) numbers
Perhaps the most surprising statistic from NICB's report, though, was how very infrequently these luxury cars do get stolen. You'd think car thieves would be more like bank thieves, and prefer to steal high-priced cars because "that's where the money is." But that's not the case. Instead, it turns out that when it comes to luxury cars, "rank hath its privileges" -- and the pricier your ride, the less likely you are to lose it.
Over the entire period covered by the report -- 2009 to 2012, only 4,384 luxury class vehicles were reported stolen. That's compared to 721,053 motor vehicle thefts of all classes of vehicle reported in 2012 alone.
This has to come as some reassurance to a prospective car buyer, worried about laying out multiple tens of thousands of dollars on a new luxury car, and wondering if in so doing, he's painting a bull's-eye on his buggy. But if you want to go the extra mile toward making sure your car doesn't become a grand theft auto-magnet, take a hint from the experts -- and avoid these five top targets of car thieves: