The top-cop leading Britain's anti-car crime squad has launched an appeal to government to make car crime a much higher priority.
"We need the government to take car crime more seriously and give us more resources, so we can do more," says DCI Mark Hooper.
Hooper, who leads the Midlands-based AVCIS-team, has just 15 people to battle increasingly sophisticated criminals using car crime as an integral part of drug and firearms crime, launder the proceeds of organised crime and finance global terrorism.
"Car crime is still hugely significant, but the figures are going down, so centrally it's not a priority. Knife and drug crime and terrorism are getting all the resources, but we want car crime to move up the agenda," he says.
Since the advent of immobilisers and deadlocks in the late 1990s, thefts of cars have been on the slide, and the figure has halved from around 350,000 in 2000/2001 to 160,000 cars in 2007/8.
But making cars more difficult to steal also means that more sophistication is required by villains, which has moved car crime further into the underworld of drugs, guns and terrorism.
Disappointingly, half of the cars stolen in the UK are un-recovered, a figure that hasn't changed in the past decade.
Cars are either sold in the UK with a legitimate identity, broken for spares, or exported abroad.
"We could do much better at recovery if we had more resources," says Hooper.
The trail of stolen cars frequently leads to exotic locations overseas with many ending up in Pakistan, the Middle East and Malaysia, where right-hand drive cars fit the driving conditions.
But stolen British cars also surface in Russia, eastern Europe and the US.
Despite knowing many of the details of crime gang operations, Hooper's small team doesn't have the resources to fight back, despite a welcome recent injection of £300k of government funding.
Cyprus, for example, is a major staging point for stolen British cars, because they can be imported into the EU-half of the island and easily transported over the border to the non-EU part where they disappear for export all over the world.
But closing down that route would require more manpower than AVCIS can deploy.