The number of high-end cars stolen across the UK has more than doubled in the last five years.
Between January and October this year more than 14,300 premium models were stolen, compared with the 6,600 taken in the same period in 2015, according to insurance data.
In the first half of this year more premium cars were stolen than in the whole of 2015 and insurers are warning that 2019 could break records for the number of high-end vehicles targeted by thieves.
According to the latest analysis of data by Direct Line Insurance, premium cars now account for 37% of all car thefts despite representing only 25% of all cars on the road.
Direct Line’s definition of premium includes Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lotus, Maserati, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche, Tesla, TVR and Volvo.
The insurer’s data shows that since 2015 more than 67,700 of these premium cars have been stolen, the equivalent of one every 38 minutes.
While the number of premium cars has grown in the last five years, the rate at which they are stolen has grown even more. According to Direct Line’s figures, there are 1.7 million more premium cars on the road now than in 2015. That’s a 26% increase over five years but the number of reported crimes has risen 117% in the same period.
Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that overall payments for car theft claims reached a seven-year high earlier this year, with new technology thought to be partly to blame.
Many premium models were among the first to get “keyless entry” systems which use transmitters in a keyfob to remotely unlock and start the car. However, these systems have proved vulnerable to relay attacks where criminals intercept and mimic the key signal, allowing them to open and start vehicles without the key.
With their relatively high value, premium models are an obvious target for organised gangs.
Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: “Our shared love of cars and technology has led to increasingly luxurious vehicles, but also a steady rise in car prices and an increased possibility of theft. Our analysis shows that certain premium car brands can be at heightened risk of being stolen so it is important for car owners to take additional precautions especially in the darker months to ensure their vehicles are not easy targets for thieves.
“Many owners believe that parking in their driveway can be an effective deterrent to thieves, though our research shows that parking in driveways does not deter thieves. We would, therefore, encourage policyholders to protect their cars by investing in anti-theft equipment, such as a steering wheel lock. Such simple yet effective devices make cars less attractive to thieves and much harder to steal.”
The figures show that, on a regional level, London is the premium car theft capital, accounting for more than a third (34%) of all premium car thefts over the past five years. This works out at around one premium car being reported as stolen every two hours, and accounts for nearly half (49 per cent) of all reported car thefts in the capital.
London is followed by the West Midlands (15%) and the North West (14%), meaning that these three regions account for nearly two thirds (63%) of all premium car thefts across the UK, despite only accounting for 56% of all car thefts