Car crime spike expected during lockdown

Car parts stolen

The shortage of new car parts could lead to a rise in the number of vehicle-related thefts. That’s the warning from a leading car tracking company.

It says opportunistic criminals are targeting vehicles to fill the replacement parts gap, caused by the shutting down of manufacturer supply chains. Police are fighting an increase in the number of ‘chop shops’, where stolen vehicles are stripped for their parts. These parts are then sold on.

Although criminals tend to target premium and expensive vehicles, no car is immune from the problem. Indeed, Tracker recently recovered a Volkswagen Polo worth less than £600.

Stolen cars are often left for up to four days to check they are not being tracked. Once the coast is clear, the vehicle is taken to a garage to have its identity changed, with high-value parts removed for sale.

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.

”Ninety-two percent 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.”

How to protect your car during the lockdown

Lockdown car crime

Tracker has the following advice for keeping your car safe during the lockdown:

  • Protect your key fob. To prevent keyless car theft, keep the key away from where the vehicle is kept when not in use. Click here for tips to avoid being targeted by keyless car thieves.
  • Switch off and lock up. Never leave your car running idle and unattended. During the lockdown, the advice is to keep the car running for 20 minutes to maintain battery life, but make sure you stay with the vehicle.
  • Make life difficult for thieves. Fit security gates if you’re parking on the drive. Opportunistic thieves prefer an easy ride.
  • Don’t advertise your stuff. Remove personal belongings from the vehicle.
  • Keep paperwork indoors. Don’t store personal documents or spare keys in the car.
  • Plan for the worst. Consider installing security cameras and lighting.
  • Use a steering wheel lock.

Click here to find out how to keep your car safe from catalytic converter theft during the lockdown.

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