Rise in cars thefts fueled by parts shortages

Some regions of the UK have seen car thefts rise by 25% or more, with police saying criminals are increasingly stealing cars not to sell them - but to strip them and sell them for parts...

Car being stolen

A shortage of car parts has led to a big a rise in vehicle thefts in some areas of the UK, police have warned, with criminals said to be taking cars and stripping them in hours, so they can sell on the components.

In total, 88,915 vehicles were stolen in the 12 months to 7 March, according to the 34 police forces that responded to a Freedom of Information request from the PA news agency – an average of 244 thefts a day.

The biggest year-on-year increase was in South Yorkshire, where there was a 28% rise in the number of vehicles stolen. Meanwhile, other areas of the country that saw large jumps included the City of London (+25%), the West Midlands (+19%) and Surrey (12%).

Ford Fiesta ST keyless theft

The rising cost of raw materials is partly to blame, with this pushing up prices of vehicle components and consequently their attractiveness to thieves. However, police also point to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the supply of some common car parts still lagging behind demand.

Superintendent Jim Munro of West Midlands Police said: “We’ve seen issues around microchips, but also other vehicle parts that have been troublesome for people to get hold of. And this is fuelling the rise in motor vehicle crimes."

Munro added that criminals tend to target common cars because of the higher demand for their parts, and said that drivers are wrong to assume that their cars will be safe in locations such as retail parks.

"Thieves are using devices that block signals when people are trying to lock their cars with their fobs," he explained. "So, when you're locking your vehicle, make sure that it is actually locked, that the signal is not being blocked. Even if you're just popping into a shop, make sure your car is secure."

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