New research from Direct Line Motor Insurance shows that Cyprus was the most commonly identified destination for stolen cars from three UK ports in 2020.
Figures from three ports managed by the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), Felixstowe, Tilbury and Southampton, found that 37 percent of the identified stolen cars were destined for Cyprus.
A fifth (19 percent) was destined for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while Ghana (11 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (six percent) were other frequent destinations.
In the first nine months of 2021, stolen vehicles worth £ 2.96 million were successfully identified by NaVCIS officials in ports. This is a 112 percent increase from the value stolen in 2020 (£ 1.39 million).
Over the same period, the number of stolen vehicles identified in the three ports rose by 14 percent. In 2020, 63 vehicles were successfully identified as stolen by NaVCIS port officials, increasing to 72 in the first nine months of 2021. This means that the average value of stolen vehicles has almost doubled in less than 12 months from £ 22,000 per vehicle in 2020 to £ 41,000 per vehicle in 2021.
Range Rover was the top car brand identified in NaVCIS ports in 2020, accounting for nearly two-fifths (38 percent) of all stolen cars identified there. Ford (10 percent), Mercedes, BMW and Land Rover (eight percent each) make up the top 5.
Findings from convicted car thieves currently serving prison terms suggest that many cars are stolen to order. For example, a convicted car thief said, “People order cars so you know what you’re going out that night. You go out and get that special car, van, whatever it is … Half the time I already know where there is one because I know so much, so I can drive straight to them. “
Lorraine Price, Head of Direct Line Motor Insurance, said, “These numbers indicate a worrying increase in cars stolen to order and then shipped to other countries, and these are just the cars we know of. The rise in the average value of these vehicles and the popularity of prestige brands like Range Rover suggest that criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated by targeting high-end cars.
“Our research among convicted car thieves supports this theory and suggests that car theft may not be an opportunistic crime, but a highly rewarded crime given that criminals are able to target certain prestige cars. Many car thieves are sophisticated in their approach, but are put off by factors such as well-lit areas, gravel driveways, and video surveillance. It is often enough to make sure that the cars are double-locked and that there are no more valuables in them, as potential thieves always look for easy targets first. “
While these numbers are only a snapshot of stolen vehicles about to be shipped overseas, separate data from NaVCIS ‘annual cargo crime report revealed that NaVCIS received 4,468 reports of truck, cargo and cargo crime in 2020, approximately 12 daily and an increase of five percent from 2019. The police areas with the highest number of freight crimes in 2020 were Essex Police (335), Thames Valley Police (327), Kent Police (284), South Yorkshire Police (276) and Bedfordshire Police ( 255.). ). Together, these forces accounted for a third of all thefts reported.
the Metropolitan Police Service recommends motorists to take the following steps to protect their car:
- Always lock your vehicle , even when refueling or when parking on your journey. If your exterior mirrors automatically fold when you lock them, always check them as criminal gangs will be looking for vehicles with exterior mirrors unfolded as the vehicle has obviously been left unlocked.
- Keep the keys in a safe place , out of sight when you are at home and not on your doorstep. It is not uncommon for thieves fishing for you with a stick and hook to steal car keys from inside your home. When not in use, keep your electronic car key in a security bag to prevent thieves from scanning it.
- Beware of car lifters . Drive with locked doors in traffic and leave enough space in front of your vehicle in queues to get out of a bottleneck.
- Park responsibly by avoiding dark and isolated areas. It’s worth the extra five or ten minute walk if it makes your vehicle safe. If possible, try to park in lighted and occupied parking spaces, or those with a Parkmark for safe parking.
- Watch out for illegal tow trucks as thieves often try to lift vehicles off the road. If you see any towing crew behaving suspiciously, report it immediately.
- Adjust good security locks in the car and remember that built-in steering locks are not theft-proof. The installation of a Sold Secure steering wheel, gear lever, or clutch pedal safety device can provide additional protection.
- Double check electronic interlock manually before leaving as electronic devices can be used to block your key fob’s electronic signal to lock your vehicle.
- Check for cloning before owning . When purchasing a vehicle, always check the DVLA V5 form and ensure that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the vehicle matches that on the document.
- Secure your port . Many modern vehicles are equipped with engine management diagnostic ports that can unlock and start your vehicle. If your vehicle has such a connector, you should install a lockable cover.