Keyless car theft was at an all-time high in 2019, with the Range Rover Sport being the most popular with thieves.
Analysis of theft data recorded by the stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) expert Tracker reveals 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. The figure in 2016 stood at 66%.
The Range Rover Sport replaces the BMW X5 which topped the chart in 2018 and now sits at number two. This in turn, has pushed the 2018 number two, the Mercedes-Benz C Class, to third place in 2019. Range Rover, BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominate the Tracker league table in 2019.
Clive Wain, head of police liaison for Tracker, said: “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. 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. 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 £575.00 being the least expensive car recovered.