Tracker, the stolen vehicle recovery expert, is warning motorists against opportunistic criminals looking to steal cars to fill the replacement parts gap, caused by the shutting down of manufacturer supply chains. Police across the country are already fighting an increase in ‘chop shops’ – where stolen vehicles are stripped down and expensive parts sold on – but the lack of legitimate parts could increase their popularity and profitability still further.
Premium, new and collectible vehicles are the most frequently stolen for their parts, but no car is immune. Indeed, Tracker recently recovered a VW Polo valued at less than £600. Cars stolen by chop shops are often left for up to four days to check it is not being tracked, before it is taken to the garage where its identity is changed, and its high-value parts are removed for re-sale.
Recently the Vehicle Remarketing Association warned business owners that vehciles being left unattended at workplaces which are on lockdown could be a target for thieves and vandals. The other risk for fleet managers is that these vehicles might NOT be covered for what is in effect, open plan storage.
As the latest Tracker statistics show, London and its nearest neighbours regularly see the highest frequency of car thefts and recoveries, followed closely by the West Midlands. The 2019 list shows northern regions creeping higher in the list than the home counties – London tops the list, followed by Essex, the West Midlands, Manchester and Yorkshire.
Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker said: “These are unprecedented times, and sadly we cannot look into the future to see how long the current restrictions will affect the car manufacturer supply chain. However, what we can do is protect ourselves while it does. Sadly, whilst we are seeing many positives come out of the current crisis – such as communities pulling together and environmental benefits – we could in the coming weeks and months see criminals take advantage of new opportunities.
“With movement so restricted, most of us are using our cars far less frequently, so it is easy to get out of the habit of checking doors are locked and keys are secured after those rare essential journeys. It’s even easier to forget these good habits after popping out to the car to collect something you left behind. 92% of the vehicles we recovered last year were stolen without the thief having possession of the vehicle’s keys.
As such, we advise owners of all vehicles to take extra care to fully secure their vehicle and keep remote locking keys as far away from the car as possible, and in a closed tin so that they are protected against relay-attacks.”