Insurance claims are made every 6 minutes as a result of car theft in the UK, with the main concerns being over keyless vehicles. £376m worth of pay-outs were made in 2018 according to members of The Association of British Insurers, this is an increase of 29% from 2017. While there is no specific percentage on the amount of keyless cars that are recorded stolen, it is said that they are becoming a more desirable target for car thieves. Car thefts sky-rocketed at the start of 2019, with a total of 375,001 incidents recorded in the UK.
Who Are You Dealing With?
Professional car thieves prefer high-performance and popular models as the parts are interchangeable. These vehicles typically end up at scrapyards or “chop shops” to be dismantled and have the parts sold. Cars are also stolen for export to other countries, known as “stealing to order”, where requests are made for certain types of vehicle.
Joyriders favour high-performance and luxury cars. With the felon having no particular goal other than to steal and drive the car for as long as possible, most of these cases end up with the car being found, but with large amounts of damage to the vehicle.
How keyless theft works
Keyless car entry allows drivers to unlock and start their cars without needing to take the key out of their pocket or put it in the ignition. Thieves work in pairs and target car parked outside houses and on driveways. One of them holds a device close to the car which boosts the signal emitted from the car, while the other stands nearby with another device that relays the signal to the key, tricking the locking mechanism and allowing easy access to steal the vehicle.
Car models at the most risk as of 2019 include:
- Alfa Romeo
A3, A4, A5, A6, A8, Q2, Q7 e-Tron, R8, S5 Sportback, SQ7, TT RS, TTS
2 series, M2, 3 series, 4 series Gran Coupe, 5 series, 6 series, 7 series, i3, i8 Roadster, X1, X2, X3, X4
C3 Pure Tech, C4 Picasso, Space tourer
- DS Automobiles
DS7, DS4 Cross Back
124 Spider, 500x
Eco-Sport, Edge, Fiesta, Focus RS, Galaxy, Kuga Vignale, Mustang, S-Max
i10, i20, i30, i40, loniq, iX35, Nexo, Kona, Santa Fe, Tucson
A 200 AMG, C Class, E Class, S Class
Here are our top tips on how to keep your car more secure:
- The easier your vehicle is to steal, or the quicker it is, the more attractive it becomes to criminals. Anything you can do to slow down or make more awkward for the thieves or joyriders, will make your vehicle less of an appealing target.
- When leaving the vehicle unattended, close all windows and sunroofs.
- Don’t leave your car running and unattended.
- If valuables are kept in the vehicle, keep them out of sight from passers-by.
- Keep vehicle papers hidden in an obscure location, as often when a thief is pulled over, they are able to get away from police as he or she can produce legal documents found in the glove box.
- Avoid high risk areas, even if it adds time on to your journey.
- If your vehicle doesn’t already have one, fit an Anti-Theft System. Thieves are less likely to steal a vehicle if it can be recovered quickly.
- Most car thefts take place at night as the darkness provides extra cover for the thieves. If possible, park in well-lit areas.
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially in car parks and petrol stations.
- To prevent your car being towed away, leave the vehicle in gear with handbrake on and turn your wheel towards the curb or any other form of obstruction.
- If you are ever confronted by a thief, put your pride aside and remember cars can be replaced – you can’t.
Types of Anti-Theft Systems
Steering and Tyre Lock- A mechanism that can attach onto a steering wheel or tyre to lock it in place, preventing a thief from driving away. Easy to install and great deterrent for thieves.
Ignition cut-off– A more advanced anti-theft device that disrupts the flow of electricity to the fuel pump and other critical systems, making it impossible for the car to be started without flicking the switch.
GPS Tracker- Although this device doesn’t prevent the car from being stolen, it is a simple way to have your car found by police no matter the location.