Motor theft has risen by almost a third in the past three years as tech-savvy criminals have developed ways to override sophisticated car security measures.
Development of car security measures such as engine immobilisers and keyless technology had seen car theft fall to a record low four years ago.
Thieves “caught up” with car security
But since then thieves have “caught up”, developing techniques to bypass modern car security precautions.
Less than 70,000 cars were reported stolen in 2014 but the latest figures suggest that since then there has been a rapid increase in car theft, peaking at 85,688 in 2016.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said: “In recent years vehicle theft has started to increase across the country following many years of reductions.
“We are seeing more sophisticated operations by organised crime gangs exporting cars for profit as well as increasing scooter and motorcycle and keyless car theft.
“Police forces are working with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, Europol and car manufacturers to design-out crime and disrupt these networks.”
“Trying to stay one step ahead of the criminals”
Chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers Mike Hawes said: “Recent increases in vehicle crime are concerning and it’s an issue that industry takes extremely seriously.
“The latest models feature sophisticated immobilisers, tracking devices and encrypted key codes to prevent cloning and manufacturers are investing billions to try to stay one step ahead of the criminals.
“However, technology can only do so much, and we continue to call for collective efforts to combat all forms of vehicle theft.”
As a result of the increase in reported car thefts, motorists are increasingly resorting to traditional security devices such as mechanical steering locks which fit over the wheel.
Only 0.3% of almost 40 million cars on the road are stolen
Mr Hawes added it was “important to remember the risk of theft is still very small – less than 0.3% of almost 40 million vehicles on our roads today are stolen”.
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