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Is Car Crime On The Rise In The UK

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  • car theft, keyless car theft, catalytic converter theft, theft
  • Posted date:
  • 04-01-2022
Is Car Crime On The Rise In The UK

Is car crime on the rise in the UK? This article looks at the latest car crime statistics to find out the current car crime rates.

Keyless Car Theft Crime Rise

On average, claims for vehicle thefts are increasing 5% every year, and this number is rising for keyless car thefts also. While London still holds the number one spot for most stolen cars, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands are second and third. Over 2021 and into 2022, keyless theft is still on the rise, and there are a few safety precautions you can put into place to prevent your car from being stolen. 

Keyless cars work on a different system than traditional cars, and organised criminal gangs can easily target them. The key isn't required to enter the lock to gain access and, in most cases, will only unlock when the key is near the car. Using a 'relay attack', thieves can make the vehicle believe the key is nearby and gain access. Two relay boxes are used, with one being positioned close to the car and the other being positioned closer to where the key could be, creating an extended length for the transmission to travel and allow access into the vehicle.

As many fobs will be in the owner's home, a mere few metres away from the car, this becomes a quick and painless procedure for criminals. With many leading car brands offering new models with keyless entry, such as Audi, BMW, Range Rover, Mercedes and Tesla, this is becoming a more prevalent risk to UK drivers. This has now become over 45% of all vehicle theft claims, and the devices criminals use are updating to match new models.

To prevent this, you can keep the car fob away from the car at all times, if possible. Thieves are assuming that the key fob is in your home while the car is within range parked on your driveway or the road.

Placing your fob in a faraday bag can prevent signals from being sent out, blocking the connection to the car and preventing the chance of burglars entering the vehicle. Steering wheel locks and wheel clamps can also be ideal for deterring thieves from attempting to take your car. 

While they can still be sawn through or destroyed, the noise of doing so would attract more attention than otherwise. Many cars automatically lock as you walk away after parking, but be sure to double-check you have locked the vehicle. Doing these things can help keep your car safe.

Is car crime on the rise in the UK?

In light of COVID-19, vehicle prices have also increased, giving even older models more appeal to thieves. Vehicle crime and the number of stolen vehicles has risen by 18% each month due to the pandemic. 

Car owners are being attacked across the country, with the majority of thefts taking place when the keys were left inside the car, so always remember to take them with you. Installing tracking devices isn't an uncommon feature anymore, and the National Police Chiefs Council has advised people to take any precautionary measures they deem suitable. 

Catalytic Converter Car Crime Wave

Beyond car theft being on the rise throughout the UK, with it being up 265% in London alone, there is also the increased risk of catalytic converter car crimes increasing. Organised criminal groups are hacking into these devices on the underside of cars for their expensive metals inside. 

While many motorists are covered by insurance, some people are experiencing their entire cars being written off due to this criminal damage. The insurance claims are rising over £3000 due to these attacks, with areas such as Birmingham, Coventry, Cambridge and London receiving the worst increases in these thefts. 

The emission-reducing devices that are installed by law to all petrol cars developed after 1993 are designed to reduce the pollutants from exhaust pipes. 

The materials within the device are valuable to thieves, as they contain palladium, platinum and rhodium, among other metals, which can be sold for more than the price of gold in some cases. 

Palladium is on the price increase, reaching over 300% since 2016 and is predicted to continue in this fashion. Due to this price increase, criminal gangs are doing whatever they can to detach them from the car as quickly as possible without being noticed, which can involve hammering and damaging the car beyond repair in some cases. 

Catalytic Converter Car Crime Wave

The device is located (in most cases) toward the exhaust pipe, resulting in the entire section being cut out by an angle grinder and leaving a broken car behind. 

The thieves involved have little regard for your vehicle, so they will cause as much damage in as little time to get the catalytic converter removed. In the amount of time to remove one, which can take up to mere seconds, thieves can sell the precious metals inside for £500 upward. 

If you are found to be driving without a catalytic converter attached to your car due to theft, you can also be fined up to £1000, as your vehicle will produce greater amounts of toxic pollution than normal.

While many luxury vehicles and hybrid cars are at risk of catalytic converter theft, it's been revealed that many older cars are also at risk. Due to the advances in technology and vehicles using less of these precious materials in the devices, the older models with higher quantities are more attractive to criminals.

If you're looking to prevent catalytic converter thefts from your vehicle, there are some preventive measures you can take. 

You should note these aren't guaranteed to deter thieves from attempting to steal, but you will put yourself in the best position to keep your vehicle safe if you do these things;

Park to prevent underneath access

Weld the bolts

Park at well-lit areas

Use security cameras at your home

Store your car off-road where possible

Use alarms

When you leave your car parked in public car parks for prolonged periods, this is where criminals will take their chance. Many are posing as emergency engineers, called on location to fix a repair, only to drive off with the catalytic converter in broad daylight. 

Where has seen the biggest rise in car theft? 

Many areas across the UK are experiencing rises in car thefts; the National Statistics show the top ten being:

Where has seen the biggest rise in car theft?

London (Increase of 260%)

Stockport (Increase of 205%)

Bolton (146%)

Cheadle (116%)

Solihull (114%)

Birmingham (<100%)

Manchester (<100%)

Nottingham (<100%)

Liverpool (down 44%)

Wigan (down 22%)

All of these statistics are increasing compared to the previous year, causing new research to be done into how we can stop this. While there are different circumstances that drivers are reporting their cars stolen, the average insurance claim as a result of this falls between £5000 to £20,000. 'Theft from' claims, where the driver reports that something has been stolen from the vehicle, not the car itself, can contain catalytic converters, personal belongings, and anything else of value. This has also seen a significant rise over the last five years, especially in hybrid vehicles and luxury brands. 

The areas aren't the only list worth considering, as the most stolen models are:

Ford Fiesta

Ford Focus

Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Corsa

Land Rover Evoque

Land Rover Discovery

Range Rover Sport

Volkswagen Golf

Audi A3

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Audi A4

The smaller, lower-price options are the vehicle models and brands most likely to be targeted by thieves. They do not typically have the same sophisticated security systems in place as more expensive models. 

Of course, the best selling models and popular cars across the UK will also be the ones that are stolen from the most, as there are higher numbers of them around. Understanding the crime rates in your area and choosing the best places to park are among some of the smartest decisions you can make.

Why stolen cars are big business in the UK

There are very few other scenarios as heartbreaking as having your car stolen, and you can be left feeling incredibly vulnerable. Over 300 vehicles are reported stolen every day across England and Wales, and this number only keeps increasing. 

Car thieves realise the potential monetary gain they can make while the police forces do very little to prevent car theft statistics from going down, as there are other pressing matters to attend to. 

The gain for thieves is great, as they can make a car disappear in less than a day in traceable shipping containers and without the need for keys, they can drive your car away before you've realised what is happening.

On top of this, convictions for car thefts are incredibly low, as criminal gangs who organise car thefts are hard to pin down as they move so efficiently. 

Police forces and police data has helped establish the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, where scrap metal businesses cannot accept cash payments for unlicensed scrap, meaning that organised gangs trying to make quick sales off your car cannot do so as easily. 

Police urge drivers to keep a keen eye out for suspicious behaviour around their cars and use the steps we have outlined above.

If you are concerned about vehicle security get in touch today. Our security experts offer ghost immobiliser fitting and other vehicle security systems for customers throughout Wirral and Liverpool.

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