Company car drivers and fleets are being warned by Tracker to be wary of opportunistic criminals looking to steal cars to fill a replacement parts gap caused by COVID-19.
The stolen vehicle recovery company says that police across the country are already fighting an increase in ‘chop shops’ – where stolen vehicles are stripped down and expensive parts sold on. But, it argues, the lack of legitimate parts could increase their popularity and profitability still further.
Clive Wain, head of police liaison at Tracker, explained: “These are unprecedented times, and sadly we cannot look into the future to see how long the current restrictions will affect the car manufacturer supply chain. However, what we can do is protect ourselves while it does.
"Sadly, whilst we are seeing many positives come out of the current crisis – such as communities pulling together and environmental benefits – we could in the coming weeks and months see criminals take advantage of new opportunities."
The latest Tracker statistics showed that London and its nearest neighbours regularly see the highest frequency of car thefts and recoveries, followed closely by the West Midlands.
It also highlights northern regions creeping higher than the home counties in a list, which is topped by London, followed by Essex, the West Midlands, Manchester and Yorkshire (see below).
“With movement so restricted, most of us are using our cars far less frequently, so it is easy to get out of the habit of checking doors are locked and keys are secured after those rare essential journeys,” continued Wain.
“It’s even easier to forget these good habits after popping out to the car to collect something you left behind. 92% of the vehicles we recovered last year were stolen without the thief having possession of the vehicle’s keys.
“As such, we advise owners of all vehicles to take extra care to fully secure their vehicle and keep remote locking keys as far away from the car as possible, and in a closed tin so that they are protected against relay-attacks.”
Tracker's top 10 regions where cars are stolen and recovered
Tracker's vehicle security tips
Protect your key fob: Keyless car theft works through a relay-style electronic device tricking your key fob signal into thinking the key is near to the car and then the device can assume all key fob power. To prevent this, keep the key - and the spare too - away from where the vehicle is kept when not in used, and block the signal by keeping the key fob in a closed tin or faraday bag.
Switch off and lock up: Never leave your car running idle and unattended, even when defrosting windscreens and windows on a cold morning.
Make life difficult: Fit security posts or a substantial gate if parking on your drive, physical barriers will make thieves think twice.
Don’t advertise your stuff: Never leave your belongings on show, lock them in the boot or take them with you.
Keep paperwork indoors: Don’t store car documents or spare keys inside the car as it makes it easier for thieves to sell it on.
Plan for the worst: Take car security measures to protect your car from being stolen in the first place, such as installing security lighting where you park your car and using a steering wheel lock. If criminals find a way to steal your car, having a vehicle tracker fitted can help the authorities to recover your vehicle.