Company car drivers and fleet owners have been given a stark warning to be wary of the heightened threat posed by criminals to steal cars to fill a replacement parts gap caused by COVID-19.
Tracker, the stolen vehicle recovery company, has advised that policing authorities across the country are fighting a significant increase in ‘chop shops’, which is where stolen cars are deconstructed and expensive parts sold on. The opportunity for these criminals is the lack of legitimate parts could increase their popularity and profitability further.
Clive Wain, head of police liaison at Tracker, explained, “These are unprecedented times, and sadly we cannot look into the future to see how long the current restrictions will affect the car manufacturer supply chain. However, what we can do is protect ourselves while it does.
“Sadly, whilst we are seeing many positives come out of the current crisis – such as communities pulling together and environmental benefits – we could in the coming weeks and months see criminals take advantage of new opportunities.”
“With movement so restricted, most of us are using our cars far less frequently, so it is easy to get out of the habit of checking doors are locked and keys are secured after those rare essential journeys,” continued Wain.
“As such, we advise owners of all vehicles to take extra care to fully secure their vehicle and keep remote locking keys as far away from the car as possible, and in a closed tin so that they are protected against relay-attacks.”
At the beginning of March, Tracker also released their list of the UK’s most stolen and recovered vehicles in 2019 which ranks the Range Rover Sport and BMW X5 in first and second place.
Tracker have provided the following tips to minimise the risk of car theft:
Protect your key fob
Keyless car theft works through a relay-style electronic device tricking your key fob signal into thinking the key is near to the car and then the device can assume all key fob power. To prevent this, keep the key – and the spare too – away from where the vehicle is kept when not in used, and block the signal by keeping the key fob in a closed tin or faraday bag.
Switch off and lock up
Never leave your car open or unattended, even when defrosting windscreens and windows on a cold morning.
Don’t advertise your stuff
Never leave your belongings on show, lock them in the boot or take them with you.
Keep paperwork indoors: Don’t store car documents or spare keys inside the car as it makes it easier for thieves to sell it on.
Plan for the worst
Take car security measures to protect your car from being stolen in the first place, such as installing security lighting where you park your car and using a steering wheel lock. If criminals find a way to steal your car, having a vehicle tracker fitted can help the authorities to recover your vehicle.