Police issue keyless car theft warning after increase in vehicle crime


Drivers and fleet operators are urged to keep their cars and vans safe by the UK’s top police officer investigating vehicle crimes.

Preliminary figures from the National Council of Chiefs of Police (NPCC) show a 3.1% increase between May 2021 and June 2021 in vehicle-related crime, with much of the increase due to keyless theft.

Police intelligence suggests organized crime gangs are using relay technology to receive the signal from a key inside a house and transfer it to a portable device, allowing them to unlock and drive the car .

Deputy Chief Constable Jenny Sims, head of the National Police Chiefs Council for Vehicle Crime, said: “While the rapid development of technology has dramatically improved the experience for drivers, it has also enabled criminals exploit weaknesses in electronic security. ”

Sims explained that they worked closely with automakers to help them “know the crime” by sharing information and equipment seized from criminals. She said: “We are already making substantial progress in this regard. ”

She continued, “I urge drivers to take simple steps to keep their vehicles safe, such as storing your keys in metal boxes or protective pouches that block devices used by criminals. Getting back to basics, like making sure your car is locked, is also worth it.

“We know from research that some owners think cars lock automatically – they don’t. Always check before leaving that it is locked.

Despite the recent slight increase in this type of theft, overall motor vehicle and vehicle theft has fallen by 21% in the latest ONS crime statistics.

In June, a new study from Verizon Connect showed that stolen vehicles or equipment cost fleet-based businesses an average of £ 12,250 each year.

For companies with more than 100 vehicles, the cost is even higher, with data suggesting fleets lose an average of £ 21,000 each year.

Police say they have made significant gains against these criminals and arrests are underway across the UK.

Just recently, Leicestershire Police secured the conviction of seven members of an organized crime gang who were involved in more than 50 keyless thefts involving vehicles totaling £ 2.4million. They were imprisoned for over 30 years in total.

Earlier last month in Liverpool, five people were sentenced to a total of more than 23 years in prison after being convicted of a range of offenses, including the theft of keyless cars for a total amount of around 2, £ 6million.

Meanwhile, Cheshire Police secured a conviction on a number of car and key break-ins and he was sentenced to more than seven years in jail in July.

Sims added, “These criminal gangs don’t care about the impact they have on ordinary people, but they should know that the police are chasing them.

“We run proactive operations every week and as recent results show, they can expect to spend a lot of time in jail when we catch them. ”

To prevent theft, drivers can take simple steps like checking that a car is locked, keeping keys out of sight and away from windows and doors, and storing key cards in a metal box or security pouch.

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