Fleet News

Crime fear sparked by zone extension

Concerns have been voiced that the imminent extension of the Schengen Zone – the borderless European area where people can travel freely between states – could lead to an increase in cross-border car crime.

The zone will be extended on December 21 to include the nine countries that joined the EU in 2004 – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Currently, some 450,000 stolen cars are trafficked from the European Union annually.

Many of these vehicles are stolen from lease and rental companies after cars and their keys are fraudulently obtained by criminals.

“The extension is itself a good reason for us to review our practices,” said Andrew Hyner, chairman of the Leaseurope Automotive Security Working Group and director of group risk management at Avis Europe.

“Additional risk may be brought about and our work is about getting us up to speed with these new threats.”

Mr Hyner confirmed that while most European markets have experienced fraud-related car crime, the group is concerned by the lack of border controls in the extended EU.

“We would hope that these countries will be ready with appropriate border controls, otherwise it would make it easier for fraudsters to operate,” said Mr Hyner.

He added that in order to effectively tackle cross-border automotive fraud in the rental and leasing industry, a quick and efficient exchange of information is crucial.

For this purpose, the group is planning to establish a network to inform each other about fraudulent activities.

It is currently working to ensure that the network can operate within data protection laws.

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