The new theft reporting agreement between the association and the police is designed to tackle a 'communication barrier' that currently hinders attempts to alert police to stolen vehicles.
Currently, police tend to treat non-return of rental vehicles as a civil dispute and not a criminal offence, while officers also claim rental firms have insufficient evidence to launch a claim.
But using a new reporting system, if rental firms follow strict guidelines on investigating why a vehicle has not been returned, and they subsequently call the police, it will be treated as a theft, entered on to the Police National Computer and given a crime number.
A spokesman for the BVRLA said: 'Our aim is to provide a standardised approach for both the police and BVRLA members in both reporting and accepting reports of stolen vehicles.
'The document contains important information for BVRLA members and police officers. Our aim is to raise the standard of the industry's basic investigation procedures by collecting detailed and relevant evidence so that the police can provide more efficient and effective assistance.'
The document aims to update an agreement originally launched in 1994, when the Association of Chief Police Officers and the BVRLA agreed a standard format for reporting stolen vehicles for the daily rental and contract hire industry.
Vehicle theft is a major problem for rental companies, with 1,636 vehicles stolen during 2001. The BVRLA estimates that last year, including damage to recovered vehicles, the cost to industry was £8.7 million.