Britain’s ‘most stolen’ cars have been revealed and prestige models from BMW, Land Rover and Mercedes top the list. Each year Tracker, a maker of car security equipment, publishes a list of the 10 most stolen and recovered cars that are fitted with its devices. And if you’re thinking of buying an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle), or already own one, Tracker’s latest findings make sobering reading.
Britain’s most stolen cars: What are they?
1. BMW X5
2. Mercedes C-class
3. Land Rover Range Rover Sport
4. Mercedes E-class
5. Land Rover Discovery
6. BMW M3
7. Land Rover Range Rover
8. Audi RS4
9. Mercedes ML
10. Mercedes C63 AMG
Britain’s most stolen cars: How they’ve changed
Last year, thieves targeted SUVs more than any other vehicle. More than half the models in Tracker’s top 10 are this type of car, up from just three in 2013. Land Rovers are as highly desired by crooks as they are by drivers. The Range Rover Sport is the third most stolen and recovered car on Tracker’s books (rising from seventh place in 2013), and in fifth and seventh place respectively are the Discovery and the Range Rover. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz ML is a ‘new entry’, in ninth place. One thing that hasn’t changed is the BMW X5’s position. For the sixth year running it was the most stolen and recovered car.
Britain’s most stolen cars: What are the police doing?
Over the past five years, there has been a rise in thefts of luxury cars that use ‘keyless’ entry and ignition systems. In Kensington and Chelsea, the poshest parts of London, the problem has become so acute that police have taken to stopping luxury cars driven after midnight.
Britain’s most stolen cars: Who’s taking them?
“The majority of vehicles in our current top 10 were keyless thefts,” says Andy Barrs, head of police liaison for Tracker. He believes that Europol (the EU’s law enforcement agency) has evidence that organised criminals employ electronic engineers to take apart the electronic control units and ignition systems on new cars so that they can work out how best to bypass their security systems.
Britain’s most stolen cars: Is keyless the key to the problem?
Keyless entry and ignition systems are becoming commonplace on all types of car. Motor makers have introduced them for reasons of driver convenience and safety but crooks have been quick to work out how to hack their associated electronic systems so that they don’t need a car’s electronic ‘smart key’ to steal it. The Sunday Times reported on the phenomenon in 2011. But car makers, including Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and Toyota, said their cars were robust against hacking.
Britain’s most stolen cars: Some simple steps to take
Thefts from cars outstrip thefts of cars so make sure you remove valuables such as sat navs, handbags and sun glasses. And lock your car, even if you’re leaving it for a couple of minutes, perhaps while you pay for fuel. Park your car in a monitored car park with a barrier to entry and exit or leave it in view of a CCTV camera. When you park the car, put it in gear (Park if it’s an automatic) and turn the wheels towards the kerb to make it difficult to tow away. At home, don’t leave your keys where they can be seen through a window, and consider fitting an after-market vehicle tracking device or mechanical immobiliser.
Britain’s most stolen cars: How does Tracker work?
Tracker’s engineers install a tracking system that’s hidden in the vehicle. Some units are enabled by unauthorised movements, with others the owner notifies Tracker HQ when they realise the car has been stolen. The tracking system emits VHF signals strong enough to be detected through steel containers (cars are often shipped abroad) enabling police to find the vehicle.