More than 85,688 vehicles were stolen last year, up by more than 30 per cent compared with 2013. A study by the RAC found that the cause could be high-tech thieves who target certain vehicles that can be hacked without a key.
The motoring organisation conducted research by submitting a Freedom of Information act to 40 police forces across England and Wales.
The Daily Mail reports that a senior police officer has warned that organised crime gangs are targeting certain vehicles in an effort to ship them abroad for profit.
RAC insurance director Mark Godfrey said: “Unfortunately, these figures show a very unwelcome rise in the theft of vehicles from much lower numbers in 2013.
“Technology advances in immobilisers, keys and car alarms had caused the number of vehicle thefts to decrease significantly from more than 300,000 in 2002, but sadly they have now increased after bottoming out in 2013 and 2014.
“We fear thieves are now becoming more and more well-equipped with technology capable of defeating car manufacturers’ anti-theft systems.”
One of the main issues is that many cars now have keyless start, especially on luxury vehicles.
Thieves can hack into the computer system of the vehicle and gain access to the car without a key via a modified transmitter. There has been much controversy around BMW’s keyless system as these cars seem to have been highly targeted.
National police chiefs’ council lead for vehicle crime and deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty said: “Local forces continue to advise people on simple and effective protective measures such as ensuring cars are parked and locked safely with appropriate alarms and no valuables on display.”
He also went on to explain that despite the increase in total thefts of motor vehicles, there are 85,000 fewer incidents reported compared with a decade ago.