Motor Theft Alerts: Stay Vigilant

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A recent spate of specific motor theft M.Os acts as a timely reminder to stay vigilant.

A sharp rise in motor theft continues, with insurers paying out record numbers on claims. According to the ABI, the first 9 months of 2018 saw pay outs totalling £271,000,000.

A major contributing factor is the speed at which criminals are finding security holes in new technology. Keyless technology, for instance, has allowed the theft of cars without any kind of break in or struggle.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the recent motor theft M.Os and how you can go about preventing them.

Airport Parking Scam

Airport parking by nature involves a huge amount of trust. This is especially true if you’re handing over the keys to your vehicle before boarding the plane.

You’re trusting the parking operator to only enter or move your vehicle when it’s absolutely appropriate, and to not move or disturb any of your belongings.

Recently, we’ve heard of a number of cases where cars have been stolen or have mysteriously disappeared whilst booked into airport parking. On some of these occasions, the thefts haven’t even been reported until the owner returns to collect their vehicle.

One such example involved an individual booking secure parking for Manchester Airport. They paid £49.99 for the promise of parking covered by CCTV.

The parking appeared official; a confirmation email was sent and the company sent a uniformed member of staff to pick the car up from a rendezvous point outside the airport. They also had what appeared to be official documentation.

When the vehicle owner arrived back in the UK, they telephoned the number given on the official document, but there was no reply. When they finally made contact with the customer, they were told that the vehicle had never been received and that the owner should contact the police instead.

However, the parking services company then contacted the insured to correct themselves; the car had been lodged and subsequently stolen. They wouldn’t elaborate on how, and this was their final communication.

Investigations revealed that the alleged “secure compound” is a farmer’s field in Cheshire.

The moral of this particular story is to do through research. Contact the airport to validate any parking agency and make sure that you can find evidence that the company are who they say they are. 

Motor Home Thefts

A couple of months ago, we wrote about the increase in keyless car thefts. Recently, this has manifested in the theft of multiple Ford Motorhomes, usually after motocross race meets. The motorhomes aren’t broken into; criminals are using key-cloning devices to hack into the on-board computer and connect a new key from a blank.

The motorhomes are usually spotted for sale online within a few days.

The best way to prevent this type of theft is to purchase additional security. Key programming can take as little as 14 seconds, so you can’t rely on being there to stop the thief every time. Fitting a lock to your diagnostic port or a steering wheel clamp are two preventative measures.

Hire Vehicle Thefts

Hire vehicle thefts aren’t new, but thieves are changing their M.O and means of disposal/distribution. Lancashire and West Yorkshire has been a hotspot in recent months.

Offenders are hiring a vehicle in one county before removing the tracking device and reporting it stolen in another county. This means more than one police force are become involved, making the investigation trickier. The thieves also wait a number of days before reporting the ‘theft’.

Intelligence suggests that perpetrators come from the same gang.

Proper and thorough background checks are the best form of crime prevention.

Our advice for all drivers

Thorough understanding and proper precaution are the keys to preventing vehicle theft.

The airport parking scam and hire vehicle thefts call for background research to verify the identity and validity of the person you’re dealing with.

When it comes to key cloning, re-programming and keyless theft, it pays to understand your vehicle’s security system. For instance, can you turn the key signal off? Or can it be masked with a Faraday pouch?

Remember, stay vigilant and ensure that any theft or suspicious behaviour is reported to the police immediately.

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