Car theft has risen by 30% in recent years, with 85,688 cars reported as stolen in 2016. That compares to just 65,783 in 2013. The figures, gathered by the RAC from 40 police forces using a Freedom of Information request, raise questions around the efficacy of modern anti-theft technology. The RAC also found a notable rise in the theft of motorcycles and scooters.

The numbers from Warwickshire were the most shocking. Car thefts there rose by 189% between 2013 and 2016. Hampshire was second, with a 59% rise, followed by West Yorkshire, with an increase of 57%. In fourth place was Norfolk, with a 56% rise in car theft over the period.

Is modern technology failing?

This rise in car theft is surprising, given the amount that car manufacturers have been spending on fitting new cars with what they believe are effective alarms and immobilisers. The reality seems to be that ‘high-tech car thieves’ are able to get around these without too much trouble at all.

Cars that use keyless fobs seem to be the worst hit, according to the RAC’s research. The findings suggest that this particular technology is far from secure. It seems that those who know how can manipulate the devices to facilitate their criminal plans.

Organised gangs are now one of the main issues when it comes to car theft. They steal cars and export them abroad for profit. One gang was even seen stealing a £60,000 BMW X5 by holding a bag up to a house door. The method suggests that they used a device to activate and extend the reach of the keyless fob inside the home.

The police, Home Office, National Crime Agency, National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, Europol and car manufacturers are working together to try and crack down on car crime. However, it seems that the anti-theft devices being put in place are just not up to scratch.

Car theft rates had actually been decreasing since 2002. This highlights the fact that it is the latest technology that is making it easier for people to steal vehicles.

Car Theft

(Credit – Turelio CC by 3.0)

How to keep your car safe

In addition to the fear of having their cars broken into, motorists are also seeing this rise in car thefts have an effect on insurance premiums. Combined with a variety of other factors, this is making the cost of driving even more expensive.

One consequence is a rise in the number of people purchasing anti-theft devices like those used back in the 1980s and 1990s. Steering wheel locks and gear stick locks are enjoying something of a resurgence.

There are several steps you can take to help keep your car safe. Firstly, parking it somewhere safe particularly at night. Always remember to lock it, with all windows and the sunroof closed securely. Remember to leave all valuables out of sight as well. You should also ensure that you have any appropriate alarms and immobilisers fitted, which will hopefully deter anyone who is hoping to steal it.

In addition to this, never leave your car running while it is unattended. Also try to avoid leaving your registration document in the vehicle, as this can help thieves to get away with stealing it if they’re stopped by the police.

If you want an obvious deterrent, a steering wheel lock is ideal. This shows people that you’ve taken steps to secure your car, which may make them think that you have other devices in place too (even if you don’t).

By following these tips, you can decrease your chance of being a victim of car theft, even if the numbers continue their steep rise.

Have you noticed your insurance premiums rising in line with the increase in car theft? Have you resorted to purchasing physical security devices to complement technological ones? Leave a comment below to share your experiences. 

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