Britain's car theft epidemic: Criminals targeting major vehicle brands on driveways - are you at risk?

Cars parked on a driveway and a keyless car fob

Drivers are being warned of leaving their cars unprotected on their driveways

GETTY
Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves


Published: 10/07/2024

- 09:01

A former police interceptor told GB News the best ways for drivers to protect their cars as vehicle theft rates continue to spiral, with research finding which brands and areas are the most susceptible to being targeted.

A GB News investigation has found that car theft is spiralling out of control, with brazen thieves targeting any and all vehicles parked on driveways across the UK, with hundreds taking place every month.

Data from Freedom of Information requests sent to all police forces around the UK revealed that car crime is still a major issue for millions of people, with technological advancements potentially making them more at risk.


Keyless cars are now a common target for criminals who can easily steal them, with high-value vehicles being targeted most often either to export worldwide or to strip for parts.

However, while luxury vehicles are often seen as the most desirable cars for criminals, more common vehicle brands are also the target of thieves, with Ford being the most stolen vehicle brand.

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Car theft

The rate of car thefts is increasing

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Data from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that the Ford Puma is the current best-selling vehicle so far this year, with 26,374 new registrations of the vehicle.

It was also the most popular new vehicle last year, with almost 50,000 new registrations - over 6,000 more than the Nissan Qashqai in second place - showing the prevalence of the brand on UK roads.

Drivers in Merseyside should be especially careful, with 91 Ford vehicles stolen across 2023 from driveways alone - the highest total of any car make.

A further 87 Ford vehicles were stolen in West Mercia, which covers Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

Ford Fiesta

Owners of Ford vehicles were impacted more often than any other brand

FORD

Larger vehicles were also targeted by criminals with 241 Land Rovers being stolen, in addition to 46 vehicles categorised as the Rover brand.

There had been some concern around the security systems inside Land Rovers and Range Rovers, which have been found to be more susceptible to thieves, with Jaguar Land Rover investing more than £10million into enhancements for its vehicles.

Of all responses collected by GB News, Gloucestershire had the lowest number of car thefts from driveways, with just 45. Across the year, the police force recorded a peak of seven thefts in June, while just two motor vehicles were stolen in April, October and December 2023.

Police forces featured in the data include Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, North Wales, South Yorkshire and West Mercia.

Former Police Interceptor Ben Pearson

Former Police Interceptor Ben Pearson urged drivers to take measures to protect their vehicles

NEXTBASE

Ben Pearson, Nextbase Police Advisor, spoke to GB News about what drivers need to do to ensure they can keep their vehicles safe and prevent thieves from taking advantage of security vulnerabilities.

The former Police Interceptor explained: "It might sound counterintuitive, but to prevent keyless car theft, it's crucial to keep your key fob secure.

"Although keyless cars offer convenience by allowing you to unlock doors and start the engine without a physical key, they are also more susceptible to a technique known as 'relay theft'.

"Thieves use this method to mimic the signal from your key fob, tricking your car into unlocking and starting as if the fob were nearby. This method is now responsible for over a third of all car thefts."

Car theftSo-called 'car cannibals' are targeting valuable parts even when the vehicle is parked on the driveway PA

He urged drivers to reduce the risk of relay theft by keeping the fob away from their vehicles, with drivers often leaving them in convenient places, such as on windowsills, near doors and in key boxes.

While this is the easiest thing to do for motorists looking to set off for the morning commute, this dramatically increases the risk of thieves being able to gain access to the vehicle and drive it away.

Pearson, who has appeared on Channel 5's Police Interceptors, advocated for the use of Faraday Pouches, which are thick, double-layered signal-blocking pouches to block EMF and RFID signals which can unlock the vehicles.

The vehicle safety expert concluded by urging motorists to stay vigilant and take methods to protect their vehicles.

Range Rover thefts increase

Jaguar Land Rover launched its own bespoke car insurance in response to high car theft rates

PA

Most stolen vehicles from driveways by brand

Ford - 427

Land Rover - 241

Mercedes-Benz - 179

BMW - 172

Volkswagen - 90

Audi - 83

Vauxhall - 50

Rover - 46

Nissan - 44

Peugeot - 25

Porsche Cayman

Porsche models and other high-end vehicles were targeted by criminals

PORSCHE

Even rarer brands like Cosworth, Ferrari, Porsche and Rolls-Royce were all taken from driveways across the country, with motoring experts and drivers calling on brands to do more to protect their prized possessions.

Criminals may not have an intended target in mind when looking to steal a car, most thieves will be attracted to a high-ticket item like a sports car or classic vehicle.

Motorcyclists are also not immune from the spate of thefts from driveways across the UK, with brands like AJS, Aprilia, Pioneer and Suzuki all being targeted.

This coincides with the staggering rise of so-called "chop shops" that see vehicles of all kinds stolen and stripped for parts where they can be moved around the world.

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Parked motorcycles

Police forces also recorded a high number of motorcycle thefts

PA

Demand for certain car parts has exploded in recent years following severe disruption to supply chains at a time that has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Joint operations between Tracker and police forces around the UK saw 55 illegal chop shops uncovered last year which were being used to dismantle stolen cars for parts.

Speaking previously to GB News, a former burglar said drivers could use steering locks and avoid leaving any valuables and high-ticket items in the car which could attract the attention of a burglar.

He also urged motorists to watch where they park. Not everyone has the luxury of parking on driveways or in garages, and with car theft on the rise, this could present major issues for Britons.

An illegal 'chop shop'The number of illegal chop shops are on the rise SOUTH YORKSHIRE POLICE

If someone is going to park on the road, they should try to park in well-lit, busy areas, with criminals likely to be put off from stealing a vehicle if there is greater than average foot traffic.

Similarly, parking close to CCTV cameras can be an additional benefit, while public car parks offer further protection, especially in a multi-storey parking structure with security cameras and guards.

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