RAC figures show that thieves stole 85,688 cars last year, although this accounts for just 0.3% of cars
Sam Sheehan
27 September 2017

The number of car thefts in Britain has surged by 30% in three years, sparking fears that thieves are becoming more technologically advanced.

A total of 85,688 car thefts were recorded by the police in 2016, 19,905 more than in 2013, despite vast advances in car security systems.

The RAC, which produced the figures, cites improvements in the equipment used by thieves to hack into digital car protection features as the main cause.

London remains the country’s car theft capital, with its share of total thefts rising from 24% in 2013 to 31% in 2016. Thefts in London totalled 26,496 vehicles in 2016, up 28% from 2013.

The West Midlands and West Yorkshire saw the biggest growth in thefts during the same period, with 2016 thefts amounting to 5930 and 5597 vehicles respectively, increases of 43% and 57% on 2013 figures.

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Greater Manchester was the next most affected area, with the local police force recording 4999 stolen vehicles in 2016. Essex and Thames Valley followed with 3623 and 2799 vehicles taken in 2016 respectively.

“We fear thieves are now becoming more and more well equipped with technology capable of defeating car manufacturers’ anti-theft systems,” explained RAC insurance director Mark Godfrey.

“Technology advances in immobilisers, keys and car alarms had caused the number of vehicle thefts to decrease significantly from more than 300,000 in 2002, but sadly they have now increased after bottoming out in 2013 and 2014.”

Despite the recent surge in thefts, the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT) believes the rise shouldn’t overshadow the vast progress car brands have made in improving security technology.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “New cars have never been more secure and the latest technology has helped bring down theft dramatically - which is why less than 0.3% of the vehicles on our roads is stolen today.

“Manufacturers invest billions to stay one step ahead of the criminals and the latest models feature sophisticated immobilisers, tracking devices and encrypted key codes to prevent cloning.”

Hawes said the SMMT was pushing for more safeguards to prevent the sale of illegal devices that enable key cloning and signal blocking, which are listed as the most favoured systems used by modern thieves.

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Comments
8

27 September 2017

Would like to know the breakdown on how cars are taken. The article goes on about high tech. theft methods which is true in high value cars, but the majority are basically stealing keys and then stealing the car.

I'm not sure what precautions/methods could be taken that would be acceptable to the owner.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

27 September 2017

Attacks are not based on stealing the keys.  The increase is due to man in the middle attacks where they amplify the signal from the key on keyless entry systems to unlock the car, start the engine and drive off.  The engine stays running.

Then they get to wherever, and programme new keys into the car.

These attacks have been happening for years, yet the manufacturers have done nothing to protect against them, and continue to fit them.

It would only take subtleties in the implementation of the keyless entry systems to defeat the amplifiers, yet the car makers do not do this as the result would be the user occasionally having to actually take out the key.

They should be called out for this, yet the press is so reliant on the advertising, they will not do it.

27 September 2017
gagaga wrote:

Attacks are not based on stealing the keys.  The increase is due to man in the middle attacks where they amplify the signal from the key on keyless entry systems to unlock the car, start the engine and drive off..

Oh good if you can just give the statistics and source you based your statement on I'd, and other readers no doubt, would be grateful!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

27 September 2017
xxxx wrote:

gagaga wrote:

Attacks are not based on stealing the keys.  The increase is due to man in the middle attacks where they amplify the signal from the key on keyless entry systems to unlock the car, start the engine and drive off..

Oh good if you can just give the statistics and source you based your statement on I'd, and other readers no doubt, would be grateful!

I do have quite lovely CCTV of my BMW being taken - 15 seconds or so to unlock and then about another 4 to start the engine. Zero damage.

Naiive little me assumed they'd have done something to secure these after all the stories about it a year or two ago.

I work in info sec. Securing keyless entry is not hard. But the car companies place absolute convenience (avoidance of the kay not being trusted occasionally) way above security.

Google 'keyless entry hacks'

28 September 2017
gagaga wrote:

xxxx wrote:

gagaga wrote:

Attacks are not based on stealing the keys.  The increase is due to man in the middle attacks where they amplify the signal from the key on keyless entry systems to unlock the car, start the engine and drive off..

Oh good if you can just give the statistics and source you based your statement on I'd, and other readers no doubt, would be grateful!

I do have quite lovely CCTV of my BMW being taken - 15 seconds or so to unlock and then about another 4 to start the engine. Zero damage.

...

Google 'keyless entry hacks'

No facts or stats then

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

27 September 2017

Very much its about taking the keys.. they simply storm people getting out on their driveway and after a bit of a kicking take the keys and car. Either that or simply knock on the door on an evening then barge in violently demanding the keys. A dashboard fingerprint reader like in a phone built into the start button would be a simple solution.

27 September 2017

Local plod told me most cars that get knicked have their keys stolen first - either at work, pick pocketed  or from home by burglary.

Steam cars are due a revival.

27 September 2017

The problem is how the figures are recorded in the first place.

For example breaking into the house and taking the car keys and the car would be routinely recorded a one crime as a burglary - or what’s known as a car key burglary.

Attacking/Beating someone for car keys and taking of the car would be recorded as robbery.

 

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