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    Protect against the growing trend of truck theft

    It may not be pleasant to think about, but sometimes drivers have to face their worst car nightmares. This could involve anything from getting mired in the mud when off-roading to, in an even worse case, finding out that you have been the victim of a car theft. Unfortunately, a number of owners of off-road vehicles have found themselves in this exact situation. 

    Thieves favoring pickups
    As full-size trucks have become more popular with drivers on the roads, they have had popularity boosts in other areas - and some of these are not as positive. A recent study shows that full-size trucks are the most common target of thieves, both with actual vehicle theft and taking items from the truck itself. 

    According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, the Ford F-250 crew cab is now the most popular target for car thieves. The truck had a claim frequency of seven per 1,000 insured vehicle years, which is almost six times the average rate for other automobiles. The average loss payment for thefts involving this truck comes in at $7,060. While this may seem like a significant sum, it is also indicative of the heavy losses that some drivers experience when they are the victims of theft. 

    This Ford truck is in the No. 1 position, but the rest of the top five are full-size trucks as well. Those selections include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew, Chevrolet Avalanche 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 crew and Ford F-350 crew.

    Many drivers are also finding that their tailgates are being stolen. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that incidences of stolen tailgates have risen each year since 2009, and they are expected to keep growing. 

    Some good news
    Despite the fact that pickups are increasingly becoming the target of thieves, there is some good news for motorists. The overall number of vehicle thefts is declining, partially thanks to a few features that are becoming standard in new models. Ignition immobilizers, for example, were installed in 89 percent of all 2012 models, GEICO reports. That number should only increase in the future, although it's not as common in trucks and large SUVs. 

    Several more recent model years have hit the market with extra security features that can help keep the vehicles safe. These additions may have had something to do with the fact that the Cadillac Escalade dropped from the most popular target for thieves to only the sixth-most popular. 

    "General Motors has put a lot of effort into new antitheft technology, so that may help explain the decline in the Escalade's theft rate," said Matt Moore, the vice president at HDLI. "On the other hand, sales of the Escalade have fallen in recent years, so there may be less of a market for stolen Escalades or Escalade parts." 

    What to do
    You aren't helpless when it comes to defending your truck or SUV. In fact, there are a number of truck and Jeep modifications you can make that will protect you and your ride against theft. For example, to avoid tailgate theft, drivers should invest in an integrated tailgate lock and even have the vehicle identification number etched into the section, Yahoo Autos reports. 

    Many thefts result from the perpetrator seeing goods in the truck bed, so you shouldn't leave your vehicle unattended for too long if you have possessions in the truck bed. Investing in thorough security systems to protect your automobile is also a must, especially for those drivers who put a lot of money into truck mods and special features. Those simple steps, along with always parking in lighted, public areas, can help you stave off theft.