England and Wales saw a nine percent increase in the number of vehicle thefts in 2018, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In total, there were 113,037 incidences of ‘theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle’, with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) also reporting an 11 percent rise in the number of motor insurance-settled claims.
It’s further evidence of a worrying reversal in the downward trend in the number of vehicle thefts, and so-called ‘relay attacks’ are at the centre of the problem. A study conducted by Tracker found that 96 percent of motorists are at risk of having their car stolen using this method.
Overall, vehicle offences were up ‘just’ two percent in 2018, a smaller increase than the 12 percent rise the previous year, but the ONS says it is too early to say whether this is the start of a more stable trend.
Theft from a vehicle accounted for more than half of the 463,497 vehicle offences reported in 2018, and there were a further 770 incidents of death or injury caused by unlawful driving.
‘Bounce and roll’
Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “One area of concern is the increase of cars with keyless entry being stolen. When it comes to stealing cars, thieves have changed their tactics from ‘smash and grab’ to ‘bounce and roll’; as they bounce the radio signals off the key to unlock the car and roll away with it.
“Having access to your keys is the easiest way for a thief to steal your car, so drivers need to ensure they protect them properly.”
Earlier this month, Ford introduced a sleep mode on new Fiesta and Focus key fobs to protect against keyless entry theft from hackers, while a Kickstarter campaign for the ‘world’s ultimate RFID case’ has attracted 182 backers, securing £8,451 of revenue.
In January, Halfords said that sales of RFID wallets had soared and added that traditional steering wheel locks are a visual deterrent in the war against keyless car thieves.
“We’ve seen sales of our wallets soar in the last few weeks. Classic steel steering locks are also an extremely effective – and visual – way of deterring thieves, and we’ve recently seen a huge increase in sales of these as car owners turn to old school solutions,” said Pavan Sondhi, a car security expert at Halfords.