There was an interesting story on WXYZ ABC Channel 7 television out of Detroit last week about how auto thieves just love GM's $60,000 plus Cadillac Escalade as well as GM's Tahoe and Yukon Denali. Apparently, experienced thieves can steal a Cadillac Escalade in about 14 seconds, and have it totally stripped in about 20 minutes.

How?

Well, the old fashion way.

According to the WXYZ story:

"You can't steal an Escalade or virtually any other new car these days by driving it away. They have a computer chip in the key. Without the key, the engine will not start."

So instead, the thieves break a window, crawl in, and then force the car's gear lever out of park. This allows the Cadillac to then be pushed away.

What about the steering wheel lock? Maybe you can push the Escalade, but surely you can't steer it.

Turns out that GM engineers thought with the high-tech key system in place, no one would be able to drive the car away. So they took out the steering wheel lock on some Escalade models which allows them to still be steered, says WXYZ.

Oops. A wee bit of technical hubris that.

WXYZ also says some Escalade owners have had their cars stolen as many as seven times.

GM told WXYZ that it has been very concerned about the theft problem, and that in 2010, it put laminated glass on the Escalade's side windows to deter thieves and started installing wheel locks again on the steering columns.

However, there seems to be a steering column design flaw which thieves have been able to easily exploit, reports WXYZ.

In addition, thieves often disable the vehicle's OnStar system to keep the vehicle from being tracked. Even when it is not, by the time the owner is aware his or her car has been stolen, it frequently has been picked clean.

WXYZ says that GM is now saying that it will be improving the steering column design to make it harder to steal an Escalade, but also adds that no car is theft proof.

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, the Cadillac Escalade has the highest theft rate of any vehicle in the US. The other vehicles in the top ten for being stolen can be found in a photo gallery here at the LA Times.

The Conversation (0)

We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images
Green

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

Keep Reading ↓Show less