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Range Rover Sport is favourite with car thieves

Vehicle tracking company uses data to identify most stolen vehicles and crime hotspots

Mark Moran
17 July 2020

The Range Rover Sport is the number one choice for thieves, according analysis of theft data recorded by the stolen vehicle recovery company Tracker.

Tracker creates systems that work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle.

The company said that 92% of the cars it recovered last year were taken without using the keys. This is an increase from 2018’s figure, which stood at 88% and an increase of 26% compared with four years ago when figure stood at 66%.

The Ranger Rover Sport jumped from eighth place in the Tracker Most Stolen and Recovered League Table in 2018. It replaces the BMW X5, which topped the chart in 2018 and now sits at number two. Range Rover, BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominate the Tracker league table in 2019.

“Our data has revealed that keyless car theft continues to rise, with 9 out of 10 of the stolen cars we recovered in 2019 taken this way,” confirms Clive Wain, head of police liaison for Tracker. “Thieves exploit keyless technology by using sophisticated equipment, which can hijack the car key’s signal from inside an owner’s home and remotely fool the system into unlocking the doors and start the engine. This is commonly known as a relay attack.

“To help prevent car owners falling victim to keyless car theft, traditional visual deterrents, such as crook locks and wheel clamps can help deter thieves and are a good investment to make. However, in the event of a car being stolen, vehicle tracking technology will not only help police close the net on thieves but see a stolen vehicle returned to its rightful owner.”

Premium vehicles are frequently stolen to order by organised criminal groups, said Wain. The cars are often shipped abroad, predominantly to Eastern Europe and North Africa. The most expensive vehicle recovered by Tracker in 2019 was a Range Rover SV Autobiography, valued at £150,000. However, cars at the lower end of the market are still a target, with a VW Polo valued at £575 being the least expensive car recovered.

“Thanks to our long-standing working relationship with all UK police forces, 54 suspected thieves were arrested in connection with the vehicles we recovered last year. In addition to the vehicles recovered by Tracker, 67 other non-Tracker fitted stolen vehicles were also found as a result,” concludes Clive Wain.

Top 10 models stolen and recovered in 2019

  1. Range Rover SportBMW X5
  2. Mercedes-Benz C Class
  3. Range Rover Vogue
  4. Land Rover Discovery
  5. BMW X6
  6. Range Rover Evoque
  7. BMW 3 Series
  8. Range Rover Autobiography
  9. Mercedes E Class

Analysis of Tracker theft data recorded by the stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) expert, Tracker, reveals that London continues to top the list of regions where cars are most stolen and recovered. Neighbouring county Essex jumped back up to the number two hot spot, as Essex police constantly discover new ‘chop-shops’ where stolen vehicles are stripped down and expensive parts sold on.

Comparing the Tracker 2019 data with recently published UK Police Force data, West Midlands – which secures third place in the Tracker 2019 league table – saw a 45% increase in vehicle theft across the UK between 2016-19. Hertfordshire and Surrey, which feature seventh and eight places in the Tracker stolen and recovered table, reported a 50% and 44% theft increase respectively, by the UK’s police.

“It is clear from both sets of data that thieves have stepped up activity in some regions over recent years,” said Clive Wain. “During this period of lockdown, it is even more important that car owners remain vigilant and do what they can to keep their car safe.”

Hotspot regions identified by Tracker include Essex, Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire in the south east of England, where BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover were favoured in equal measure by thieves. West and South Yorkshire, Manchester and Merseyside represent the north of England’s criminal hotspots; Merseyside reappears in the league table having dropped out in 2018. The Range Rover Vogue is the most favoured car in Manchester, compared to the BMW X5 being the most stolen and recovered vehicle in neighbouring West Yorkshire.

Wain said: “Our analysis highlights some interesting manufacturer preferences by region, as 4x4s continuing to dominate our top 10 most desirable makes and models that thieves are stealing. However, whilst it is common for car thieves to target premium marques, we should not underestimate the appetite for lower value cars.” 

There has also been an upward trend in keyless car thefts, with 92% of the cars Tracker recovered last year having taken without using the keys. This represents a worrying increase of 26% compared with four years ago when the figure stood at 66%.
“To help prevent car owners falling victim to keyless car theft, traditional visual deterrents, such as crook locks and wheel clamps can help deter thieves and are a good investment to make.  However, those motorists that have invested in SVR technology are very clearly benefiting from the protection,” said Wain.

UK Police Forces: Top Five rises in vehicle theft across the UK between 2016-19

  1. Nottinghamshire
  2. Staffordshire
  3. Hertfordshire
  4. West Midlands
  5. Surrey

Top 10 Regions of stolen and recovered vehicles in 2019

  1. London
  2. Essex
  3. West Midlands
  4. Manchester
  5. West Yorkshire
  6. South Yorkshire
  7. Herefordshire
  8. Surrey
  9. Kent
  10. Merseyside
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