New figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that the number of motor theft claims paid by insurers in the first quarter of this year were at their highest for any quarter since 2012. A payment was made to a car crime victim every eight minutes, and the cost of these claims rose by 22 per cent on the same period last year.
The cost of theft pay-outs, at £108 million, works out at over £1.2 million paid to policyholders every day. In the last four years the overall cost of motor theft claims has doubled. These figures reflect a hefty rise in UK vehicle crime, with Home Office figures recording a 50 per cent increase in vehicle thefts over the last five years.
This is in part being driven by keyless car theft. Often working in pairs, car thieves use electronic signal relay devices to steal the vehicle, normally from outside the owner’s home. One thief stands next to the vehicle, while the other stands close enough to the house to pick up the signal from the key fob. The system is fooled into unlocking the doors and starting the engine, giving the thieves free access to the vehicle.
Of course, they are other factors at play. Last year, we reported on three classic roadsters taken from South London within a mile of each other – one in broad daylight – yet the crimes were not properly investigated by the police or even linked. The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by over 20,000 between March 2010 and March 2018, meaning forces are so stretched they are unable to devote time to vehicle crime. Sadly, this means thieves no longer fear the repercussions of getting caught.