Crime Trends

Tracker Reports 13% Increase In Vehicle Thefts And Recoveries

Vehicle thefts rise as supply chain issues continue to strangle the new car market

 Analysis of theft data from stolen vehicle recovery expert, Tracker Network (UK) Ltd, from the first half of 2022 reveals another annual increase in vehicle thefts and recoveries. More than £5million worth of vehicles in the first six months of 2022 were recovered by Tracker, an increase of 13% compared to the same period in 2021.

With ongoing supply chain challenges hampering new car sales, used cars and their parts have increased in demand, not only driving up their resale value but also becoming even more desirable by criminals seeking to profit by meeting consumer needs.

Range Rovers and Land Rovers continue to be the make of car most stolen and recovered by Tracker between January to June, accounting for four of the top models recovered. They also account for 44% of all cars recovered by Tracker. The other make and model taking a spot in Tracker’s top five list was the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The most valuable vehicle Tracker has recovered this year was a Mercedes-Benz GLS AMG worth over £100,000. Tracker has also seen an increase in the number of vehicles stolen without the thief having possession of the keys, reaching 94% in 2022, up from 92% in 2021.

“Keyless theft has been on an upward trend across the country for many years now, with keyless entry systems now commonplace and criminals adept at taking advantage of security-tech weak spots,” commented Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker. “The increasing demand for used cars and car parts is pushing up prices and increasing profits for the professional criminals stealing cars to meet demand. For these professionals, it can take less than two minutes to steal a car without the keys, if the owner has left the key fob within reach of the signal from a relay device outside of the property.”

Keyless car theft works through a relay-style electronic device comprising two boxes; one near the key fob, the other near the car. The devices transmit the key fob signal and trick the keyless entry technology installed in the vehicle into thinking that the key is in very close proximity to the car, allowing instant remote access. The ‘relay attack’ allows thieves to unlock and start the vehicle within seconds.

Clive Wain continues, “We always advise drivers to keep their keys as far away from the location of the vehicle as possible.  Ideally, they should be kept inside a metal container or Faraday bag that will block a relay attack now routinely used by thieves to unlock and start vehicles. However, determined criminals may still find a way to take a vehicle that represents a significant profit.

Physical deterrents, like wheel clamps, alarm systems and deadbolts reduce the chance of theft, but only a tracking device will improve the chances of recovery if criminals get past these barriers. Tracker is the only SVR provider that uses the combination of VHF with GPS/GSM technology which works like an electronic homing device, and the only provider supported nationwide by UK police forces. Tracker detection units are fitted in over 2,000 police patrol vehicles and throughout the national fleet of Police helicopters that comprise the National Police Air Service (NPAS).