Fleet News

Using technology to reduce theft opportunities

Jonathon Eaves, managing director SVT and traffic services at Teletract Navman

Jonathon Eaves, managing director SVT and traffic services at Teletrac Navman

The car crime rates in the automotive industry continue to be a concern for OEMs vehicle owners alike. Data from the last 10 years demonstrates car crime has not significantly decreased despite the technological innovations seen in the sector.

Looking at the latest statistics across the UK, in 2010 the number of stolen vehicles in England and Wales totalled 93,000, and ten years later – despite the innovations we’ve seen in technology – the figure sits at a similar level of 95,000.

The statistics highlight the demand, opportunity, and tactics to steal vehicles is still prevalent – despite some manufacturers giving the impression modern cars are almost impossible to steal.

Furthermore, it demonstrates why original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to continually look at methods to prevent car crime.

This delay of new cars has meant vehicles themselves have become an increasingly valuable asset.

The market price is at record levels, with the average used car price during December 2021 rising to £17,816, which is 30.5% higher than the same month in 2020.

And as the value of cars goes up, so does the risk of car crime.

We know there is high demand, but do thieves continue to have the same opportunity and use the same tactics to steal cars with the new, modern systems we find in vehicles today?

Vehicles are predominantly produced using the modern key fobs and the more traditional remote key – and thieves’ tactics to combat the new technology has developed in tandem.

Currently, the most common method of vehicle theft is a relay attack with the new, modern key fob.

Criminals use hardware to clone the signal from your keyless entry fob and ‘trick’ your vehicle into thinking that the key is nearby, allowing the holder of the cloned signal access to your car and the ability to start and drive it away.

This leads to one of the big questions around the future vehicle security: what can be done to reduce the risk of car crime and keep insurance rates down?

Vehicles remain expensive, desirable and in demand. And with this comes an increased risk of car crime and insurance rates reflect this.

So, car owners need to stay vigilant and keep any personal belongings out of sight to reduce risk.

But when it comes to a relay attack, investing in a faraday pouch would be recommended, as it protects against it by blocking any signals entering or leaving the pouch.

But no car is guaranteed to be safe from theft, and to keep insurance costs low, vehicle tracking systems are an essential tool in car crime.

Many new cars now have built in security features such as e-call, b-call and stolen vehicle tracking, all of which can locate a vehicle.

However, unlike these systems, ours work remotely from the vehicle and across various countries.

One OEM to recently introduce such a measure is Ford, using stolen vehicle services (SVS) in upcoming models such as the new Ford Focus and Mustang Mach-e.

Charles Nolan, retail connectivity solutions director at Ford Europe, said: “We know that thefts have been on the rise and want to give our customers greater peace of mind when they are away from their vehicles.

"Ford has worked hard to develop a robust security offering that provides 24-hour support using our connected car technology, initially available soon for our latest Ford Focus & Mustang Mach-E GT owners but also for other models in the future.

"SVS allows customers to have that added layer of protection for their vehicles, where should the worst happen, the authorities and SVS team can work together to recover a vehicle, minimising stress and effort for the customer.”

Looking at the automotive sector today, it is evident vehicles continue to be at risk of theft.

There is clear value in more OEMs and vehicle owners putting in place methods to stay ahead, utilising the technology available to reduce theft opportunities and maximise the chance of recovery.

Vigilant behaviour and vehicle tracking are vital to increasing the likelihood of recovering your vehicle in the shortest time and intact.

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