Car theft across UK hits six-year high

2017 saw the highest levels of car theft since 2011

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The number of cars stolen in 2017 reached its highest level in six years, according to official figures from the DVLA.

Falling police numbers and the vulnerability of modern electronic security systems are being blamed for the increase in thefts, which saw more than 43,000 vehicles reported stolen to the DVLA in 2017 – 9,000 more than in 2016 and 13,000 more than in 2015.

Speaking to Auto Express, spokesperson for RAC Insurance Simon Williams said this was “a real cause for concern”. He said that while manufacturers put more clever systems on their cars, “it seems criminal groups are continuing to find ways around them”.

Williams added: “We are concerned that the declining number of police officers could be resulting in less investigation of motor crime like this, something that could be solved by forces having greater resources.”

The surge can be blamed in part on ‘keyless’ car crime, with thieves using a car’s security system against itself to gain access. Using handheld scanners, easily purchased on the internet, thieves are able to scan the signal from a car’s entry fob and amplify it, tricking the car into unlocking itself.

The Association of British Insurers said keyless theft was the main cause of the spike in figures. Its spokesperson, Malcolm Tarling, said: “Car criminals don’t stand still. As cars become better protected, criminals see a challenge to break into them.”

Figures out this week from the association also showed an increase in keyless car crime, up 32% in the first nine months compared to the same period in 2018 and costing insurers £271 million.

DVLA data for 2018 shows that 32,827 cars were stolen up to October 26. That points towards a full-year total that will again exceed 40,000 thefts.

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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