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Unfortunately, UK car theft became all too common last year, with statistics showing incidents had increased by a third. The DVLA received 74,769 stolen vehicle reports in 2020, with thieves stealing an average 205 cars every day.
Even worse is the fact that almost three-quarters of owners never get their stolen vehicle back. This causes great inconvenience and stress, while also pushing up car insurance premiums. Once you've had to claim for vehicle theft, you know your insurance costs are going to go up when you next renew your policy.
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What type of cars are often reported stolen?
Thieves target some vehicle models more than others. At the top of the list, a shocking 3,392 Ford Fiestas were stolen in 2020. This is followed by the Range Rover, with 2,881 stolen last year. The VW Golf was the third most stolen, followed by the Ford Focus, BMW 3 Series, Vauxhall Astra, Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes Benz E Class and BMW 5 series.
Police believe the increase in thefts is a reflection of an ongoing crime wave, where gangs are using keyless technology to steal luxury cars. The problem of premium cars being stolen has also increased in recent years, in line with a rise in the theft of standard family vehicles.
The average black market value of cars being stolen across the UK ranges from £1,000 to £3,000. However, thieves are stealing to order, according to police. Even top-of-the-range luxury sports cars are being stolen including eight Lamborghinis, five Ferraris and one McLaren in 2020.
With the average price of a McLaren being a cool £155,000, the gangs targeting these high-end vehicles obviously have a buyer in mind.
How are they stolen?
It can seem easy for car thieves to steal expensive luxury cars, looking at the statistics. Sadly, tech-savvy gangs are increasingly using key-programming devices, which will create a duplicate key for the targeted premium vehicle. This will enable the thieves to enter the vehicle and drive away without causing too much suspicion.
This technique accounted for around 6,000 car and van thefts in 2020 - an average of 17 vehicles a day. This situation is particularly common in London, where 42% of all stolen vehicles were taken without using the cars' original keys.
Devices that the criminals use are usually stolen, as they are available legitimately to garages to repair and service vehicles, but when they fall into the wrong hands, they are abused.
What are car makers doing to prevent keyless theft?
Vehicle manufacturers are fighting back against the scourge of keyless theft. Some are continually developing new security measures to combat the threat of keyless entry systems.
Manufacturers such as BMW, Audi, Ford and Mercedes have introduced new motion sensor technology to their vehicles' keyfobs. This will detect when the key hasn’t moved for a period of time and will deactivate it, meaning it no longer emits the code and thwarts would-be thieves. When the key fob is moved again by the owner, it will start to emit the code.
Jaguar Land Rover is also taking measures to combat car theft, as it has fitted some models with state-of-the-art technology that transmits the code over a large range of different frequencies simultaneously. This means the car thieves are unable to pick up the signal.
What can a car owner do?
Luckily, there are steps a car owner can take to provide extra protection for their vehicle. There are many new technical car accessories on the market today that will deter and prevent would-be thieves from taking a vehicle.
Among the most effective products on the market, the Autowatch Ghost is the smallest automotive immobiliser ever designed. Suitable for a number of models such as the BMW, Bentley, Audi, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Porsche and Volkswagen, it is so small that it will go virtually unnoticed if someone targets your vehicle.
Another modern piece of technology to combat car theft is the tracker. In the event of your vehicle being stolen, you can track where it is being taken and have a better chance of its safe return. Available for many different vehicles, trackers can be retrofitted. Many are also battery-powered, which is extremely useful, as they don't rely on a mains power source to work. The trackers' own internal battery can last for up to five years.
Monitored 24/7 at a control room, the tracker will notify you in the event of a theft. Once the owner confirms a theft is in progress, a police crime reference will be generated and your vehicle's monitor will be activated, allowing the police to track its whereabouts without the thieves' knowledge.
For further information on the latest technology to protect your vehicle from theft, contact Autologics on 0333 344 4816.