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Car theft up 20%: what can owners do about it?

By Adam Phillips
News entry dated 26th Jul 2017

According to the latest government figures, nearly 100,000 vehicles were stolen last year. Break-ins rose to 250,000 over the same period. The increase in theft marks the single biggest leap in vehicle crime in a decade.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 97,152 vehicles were snatched in the year to March 2017. Meanwhile, break-ins were up 8% compared to the previous year. Attempted thefts also rose, with 2016 seeing a 14% increase.

(Credit – West Midlands Police CC BY 2.0)

Mrs May’s fault?

The figures make for sobering reading, especially when you consider that they buck the previous trend of car crime falling in recent times. The main reason for such a dramatic reversal is being laid firmly at the feet of the government and the fact that police numbers are at their lowest since 1985.

Steve White of the Police Federation of England and Wales asks,

“What more of a wake-up call does the government need? Government needs to start to invest now in backing the police service so that it can carry out its primary responsibility, which is the safety and security of its citizens. These figures demonstrate that this has not happened.”

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Which cars are stolen?

The sudden spike in car crime means drivers are left struggling to secure their vehicles from thieves. Inevitably, certain makes and models of cars are at the top of thieves’ wish lists. As such, making a purchasing decision based on how ‘nickable’ a car is could be a shrewd move. Car tracking company Tracker recently released its top 10 list of the most stolen (and recovered) cars:

10. BMW 5-Series

9. Land Rover Defender

8. Range Rover Vogue

7. Range Rover Autobiography

6. BMW 3-Series

5. Mercedes-Benz E Class

4. Mercedes-Benz C Class

3. BMW M3

2. Range Rover Sport

1. BMW X5

According to anecdotal evidence heard by PetrolPrices, less expensive cars are also being heavily targeted, including models from Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen. We’ve also heard that particular favourites among thieves are the Volkswagen Golf R and Audi S3.

(Credit – Ivan Turkouski CC BY 2.0)

Consider where you park

Where you park can play a big role in whether you’ll be targeted by car thieves. Tracker highlights the worst affected areas. The breakdown reveals a particular emphasis on targeting vehicles in the North:

10. Lancashire

9. South Yorkshire

8. Merseyside

7. Greater Manchester

6. Surrey

5. Kent

4. West Yorkshire

3. West Midlands

2. Essex

1. London

Thieves taking advantage of tech

Technology has helped crush the old technique of breaking into a car and ‘hot-wiring’ it. However, tech is now becoming the Achilles’ heel of security in the eyes of more savvy criminals. For instance, the keyless entry technology used by 30 carmakers was shown to be flawed by the German AA earlier this year. It managed to perform a simple hack with a device that can be bought for £80.

In another incident, car thieves were caught on camera holding up a bag to a car owner’s front door. Inside the bag was a range extender. It increased the range of the BMW key fob inside the house and allowed the thieves to start the car without entering the property. They subsequently made off with the BMW X5 in the driveway.

At least in such cases, the car owners are left to sleep, often unaware their vehicle has been stolen until long after the thieves have gone. A far more worrying trend is when thieves break in to grab keys. While many cases see thieves making off with keys without disturbing the household, there have been tabloid horror stories of people being attacked by burglars as they come downstairs to investigate the noise.

To counteract such occurrences, police encourage car owners to take their keys up to bed with them – though we’re not sure how wise such a strategy is if a thief is determined to get the car that night. The police also advise people to follow standard anti-burglary procedures to secure their properties.

(Credit – Pixabay)

Take action now

While any car can be a target for thieves, it’s inevitably luxury vehicles that attract the most attention. Sadly, it’s an issue that more and more drivers must consider when deciding on which new car to purchase.

While it feels wrong to make a choice based on the chances of a thief stealing your vehicle, one upside to buying a less alluring car is that it will inevitably be cheaper and more economical to run. You’ll experience lower costs all-round, as well as being able to use PetrolPrices to source cheaper fuel. If that means you and your loved ones can sleep easier at night, we’re all for it.

Could the police be doing more to tackle car theft? Or do vehicle manufacturers need to shoulder some of the responsibility for the increase in stolen motors? Let us know your thoughts below.

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