Philip Uwaoma
9 min read
16 Mar

Just days ago, we read of a federal high court forfeiture order for 36 cars stolen from Canada and brazenly displayed for sale in dealerships in Nigeria. The stolen cars range from regular to premium models, including a 2020 Toyota Tacoma, 2019 Lexus RX350, Ford F150, and Land Rover. The cars were allegedly shipped to Nigeria after they were stolen from residential driveways and company lots in the Great White North. 

According to data published by MarketWatch, a 25% spike in car thefts between 2019 and 2022 shows that automobile thefts are actually increasing despite the advances in automotive safety and security technologies. In America, a car is stolen every 32 seconds, as reported by the NHTSA, with the city of Colorado ranking among the hardest hit, with over a thousand car thefts per 100,000 people. 

Among the targeted cars, the infamous Kia/Hyundai car-jacking is probably the most famous, although the Korean automaker has since introduced hardware and software solutions to plug the loopholes. The dust from the battle between car thieves and automakers is far from settling, but some brands stand as impregnable fortresses on wheels, equipped with cutting-edge theft deterrent features that make them formidable targets for even the most seasoned criminals. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the vehicles on this list are the hardest to steal, thanks to a combination of advanced security technologies and innovative design elements. 

See also:

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10 Automobiles With The Toughest Security Systems To Prevent Theft And Unauthorized Access:

10. Mercedes-Benz GLE 

9. Lexus UX 

8. Nissan Leaf 

7. Chevrolet Trailblazer       

6. Land Rover Defender       

5. GMC Acadia 

4. Volvo XC90 

3. Cadillac XT5

2. Buick Envision     

1. Tesla Model Y 

10. Hardest Cars to Steal: Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes-Benz GLE is one of the hardest cars to steal.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is equipped with an immobilizer system as part of its anti-theft technology. The immobilizer system verifies that the key used to start the engine is the correct one. If the key is not recognized or detected, the system will block various actions to prevent the car from starting. 

In the GLE, The immobilizer system verifies the key signal with a chip inside the key near the ignition switch. If the key signal is not recognized, the engine either refuses to start or stops shortly after starting. The system disables components like the fuel pump, ignition coil, and injectors and may lock the steering column to prevent theft. 

The immobilizer will activate due to several reasons like low battery in the key, damaged key chip, or faulty wiring. Fixing an immobilizer issue usually requires diagnostics by a specialist to identify the cause and potential component replacement or reprogramming. 

9. Hardest Cars to Steal: Lexus UX

Lexus UX is one of the hardest cars to steal.

The Lexus UX is equipped with a security system that can anticipate and detect unwanted vehicle intrusion. It has an ignition disable device that prevents the engine from starting if the correct original manufacturer key is not used. 

The UX premium SUV typically comes with an anti-theft alarm control unit that helps in detecting unauthorized access to the vehicle and triggers an alarm to alert the owner and deter thieves. Some models come with a tracking system that aids in recovering the stolen vehicle quickly. 

Ultimately, some UX models, like the 250h, feature an immobilizer system that prevents the engine from starting without the correct key or key fob. These features work together to make the Lexus UX one of the hardest cars to steal, providing peace of mind to the owners regarding the safety and security of their vehicles. 

8. Hardest Cars to Steal: Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf is one of the hardest cars to steal.

The Nissan Leaf employs several anti-theft technologies, including an immobilizer system that prevents the engine from starting without the correct key, a vehicle security system with alarm and immobilizer functions, and a sophisticated electronic control unit that communicates with the key fob to ensure only authorized access. Additionally, some models feature GPS tracking to aid in recovery if the vehicle is stolen. 

Furthermore, the Nissan Leaf typically comes with standard security features like keyless entry/ keyless start. Keyless entry and keyless start systems improve vehicle security by eliminating the need for a physical key, which can be vulnerable to theft or duplication. Instead, these systems rely on encrypted communication between the key fob and the vehicle's electronic control unit. 

Additionally, some keyless entry systems feature rolling code technology, which generates a new code each time the key fob is used, further enhancing security by preventing code interception or replication. 

Some owners recommend using preventive measures like keeping the key fob in a Faraday bag to prevent signal amplification attacks that could potentially unlock and start the car remotely. 

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7. Hardest Cars to Steal: Chevrolet Trailblazer

Chevrolet Trailblazer is one of the hardest cars to steal..

The Chevrolet Trailblazer’s security system includes a theft deterrent feature, most notably the ignition disable device designed to prevent the engine from starting if the correct original manufacturer key is not used. 

To arm the Trailblazer’s advanced theft deterrent feature, you can use the key fob or keyless entry system to lock the vehicle. When you lock the vehicle using the key fob, the security system is automatically activated, including the anti-theft measures. 

The SUV features an electric fuel filler lock that deters gas siphoning by automatically locking the fuel door when the vehicle doors are locked. The steering column lock activates upon turning off and exiting the vehicle, preventing unauthorized driving, towing, or pushing without the key fob. 

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The Trailblazer is among some modern automobiles with Vehicle Inclination Sensor, which detects changes in vehicle tilt, like when jacked up or towed, helping prevent theft. It activates the vehicle alarm, including the horn, siren, lights, and Surround Vision Recorder (if available) upon sensing a trigger. It also has an Interior Movement Sensor that monitors the vehicle interior using ultrasonic waves. 

There are also Glass Breakage Sensors located in the rear quarter panel windows and lift gate windows, supplementing intrusion sensors. These protect valuables in the cargo area by sounding the alarm if the glass is broken. The Surround Vision Recorder (if available) also activates upon the GBS trigger. 

Additionally, the Trailblazer comes with a shielded, battery-backed alarm siren, which is a dedicated siren (with an exclusive power source) mounted securely to protect against break-ins. It sounds the alarm in three instances: main battery disconnection, siren disconnection while armed, or any alarm-triggered event. 

6. Hardest Cars to Steal: Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender is one of the hardest cars to steal..

Besides its robust build quality, the Land Rover Defender is also known for its advanced security features that help prevent theft and unauthorized access. The SUV comes equipped with an engine immobilizer system to deter unauthorized access and hot-wiring of the vehicle. 

The Defender is also equipped with a perimeter alarm system that triggers an audible alarm and activates lights if someone tries to tamper with the vehicle, such as opening a door or the hood without authorization. 

The secure entry system allows for keyless entry and keyless start to promote convenience and security. Some Land Rover Defenders come with a built-in vehicle tracking system that enables the owner to track the vehicle's location in case of theft or unauthorized use. 

5. Hardest Cars to Steal: GMC Acadia

The GMC Acadia uses an ignition disable device that prevents the engine from starting if the correct original manufacturer key is not used. The American SUV’s RKE transmitter can activate the anti-theft alarm system, which includes features like content theft-deterrent alarm and pre-alarm function. 

The theft-deterrent system will not activate if the doors are locked with the vehicle's key or the manual door lock. If a locked door is opened without using the RKE transmitter, it will trigger the alarm. 

In case of unauthorized entry, the headlamps flash, and the horn sounds for about 30 seconds to alert the surroundings, and then turns off to save battery power. These features work together to make the GMC Acadia a challenging target for thieves. 

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4. Hardest Cars to Steal: Volvo XC90

Volvo XC90 is one of the hardest cars to steal.

The Volvo XC90’s security system includes an ignition disable device. When the car's alarm is activated, the car owner receives a message to the phone number registered with the dealer and a push notification in the Volvo Cars app.

In case of theft or unauthorized use of the car, the owner, police, and Volvo support can work together to trace the car using GPS positioning and GSM technology. 

The Volvo On Call feature allows the car owner to remotely access and control certain vehicle functions, enhancing security and convenience. The XC90, no doubt, boasts robust theft deterrent measures. 

3. Hardest Cars to Steal: Cadillac XT5

Cadillac XT5 is one of the hardest cars to steal.

The Cadillac XT5 comes with an Advanced Security Package that includes theft deterrent features such as: 

  • Steering Column Lock: Prevents unauthorized driving by locking the steering column.
  • Door Lock and Latch Shields: Protects the door locks and latches from tampering.
  • Self-Powered Theft-Deterrent Alarm System: Alerts with a loud alarm in case of unauthorized entry or break-in.
  • Inclination Sensor: Detects changes in the vehicle's tilt to prevent theft of wheels or the vehicle itself.
  • Vehicle Interior Movement Sensor: Monitors the interior for any unauthorized movement or entry.
  • Locking Wheel Lugs: Secure the wheels to prevent wheel theft.

These features collectively make the Cadillac XT5 one of the hardest vehicles to steal in 2024 and beyond. 

2. Hardest Cars to Steal: Buick Envision

2024 Buick Envision is one of the hardest cars to steal.

The Buick Envision's Advanced Theft Deterrent system includes (if equipped) an Electric Fuel Filler Lock, which locks the fuel door after the vehicle doors are locked to deter gas siphoning, Steering Column Lock, which automatically activates when you turn off and exit the vehicle to prevent unauthorized driving, Vehicle Inclination Sensor, which detects changes in the vehicle's tilt to protect against wheel and vehicle theft, Interior Movement Sensor, which monitors the interior with ultrasonic waves to detect unauthorized entry, Glass Breakage Sensors, located in the rear windows to protect valuables in the cargo area, and Shielded, Battery-Backed Alarm Siren, which offers a dedicated siren with its own power source to sound the alarm in case of a break-in. 

1. Hardest Mainstream Car to Steal: Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y is one of the hardest cars to steal.

You may have noticed that some automobiles, like the formidable Rezvani Vengeance, are missing from this list, even though they are the closest to Fort Knoxes on wheels compared to the models and brands represented here. 

While the Rezvanis and some of the world’s baddest, military-grade vehicles can scare thieves with just their looks alone, this list focuses on mainstream brands you won’t need a reservation for yours to be built, as reviewed by the IIHS. Among these mainstream brands, the Tesla Model Y is easily the toughest of the lot for thieves to tamper with. 

You can imagine how handy the cabin camera, used for driver monitoring and inattentiveness alert when Autopilot is engaged, can be with a stranger behind the wheel or inside the car at all. Note that images and video from the cabin camera are not transmitted unless data sharing is enabled. 

The Model Y has a security alarm that will sound and activate external lights if a locked trunk or door is opened without a valid entry key. The PIN to Drive feature allows you to set a secure four-digit verification code that must be entered before the vehicle can be driven. 

Plus, there’s the famous Sentry Mode, which lets you monitor suspicious activities around your vehicle by using the car's cameras and sensors to detect potential threats. These advanced features help make the Tesla Model Y one of the world's toughest vehicles to steal.

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