The figures are stark: some may say of epidemic proportions. 106,291 cases in England and Wales during 2019. That’s 291 a day or one every 5 minutes.
…The fallout is frequently costly and at the very least inconvenient although few culprits are brought to account with only 666 offenders found guilty and a paltry 243 jailed. But despite the numbers there is little chance of our politicians doing much about it.
Car theft is booming, it’s getting worse (up over 50% since 2013) and it seems our demand for the convenience of ‘keyless’ and remote technology is driving the increase.
Being able to open a car door as you approach is great (no more little scratches by the handle) and it’s also easier to find your car in a car park. I even set up a mobile app and used it to remotely turn on my air-con during the recent hot weather, but these ‘mod-cons’ come at a risk and the more high tech they become the more the tech savvy criminals have the chance to steal your vehicle. They won’t be far away (no doubt enjoying the benefit of face masks), use signal relay devices to trick the vehicle that the ‘key’ is present, and the vehicle will be gone in seconds. Prestige and higher value cars are generally said to be most at risk although with this type of technology becoming the norm, the more humble Ford Fiesta was the most stolen vehicle in 2019.
Current Government advice will no doubt be stop using it, lock it up and don’t even visit but back in the real world the irony is that most solutions counteract the convenience of the technology and can in themselves be inconvenient. Keeping the key fobs safe generally means keeping it as far away from the vehicle as possible: so just picking them up from inside your front door is a no-go, unless you want to park further down the road. You can get ‘Faraday’ bags that block the signal from the key fob, but you then have to take the key out to use the vehicle. Trackers are a good solution but may have their irritations. Mine needs a sensor (kept with the vehicle fob) present but if you have it buried deep in your pocket; you receive frequent phone calls to check that the vehicle is ok. For high value vehicles, electronic posts or gates can be considered but garages are best (if they are big enough) and even old-fashioned steering column locks are being used.
Insurers used to want evidence of a ‘break in’ when a vehicle was stolen, such as a broken window or jemmied door (assuming it was recovered) if not, their starting point was it must have been left unlocked or with a key. However, they have moved on and if you are unlucky to be a victim at least insurers now accept that ‘keyless’ losses do occur.