The latest European Union Serious Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) report has revealed shocking statistics regarding victims of car theft across the continent. Published every four years, the report analyses car crime across the Union, and this edition still includes the UK despite Brexit.
Worryingly, SOCTA’s findings suggest that risk of serious and organised crime relating to motorists across the EU has never been higher.
Currently, there are more than 5,000 organised crime groups that are under investigation.
The report found that due to Covid-19 and the economic fallout in recent years, there has been an expansion of car crime across the member states, and these organisations have taken advantage of the situation.
According to the research, these organised crime syndicates are run in a similar way to modern businesses, with management, operatives, and sales workers – drawing comparisons to high level international drug trafficking cartels. In some cases, cars are stolen ‘to order’ with international buyers making vehicle requests to criminal organisations who go and track them down based on their client’s brief.
The global automotive aftermarket for replacement parts and accessories is worth more than $390 billion. SOCTA found that in the UK, organised vehicle crime is a major problem for the police.
In total, Home Office statistics revealed that 105,512 cars were stolen in 2021 – and only 29,543 were ever recovered. Motorcycle theft didn’t fare any better, with an estimated 25,212 stolen in 2022, and only 37% of them were found again by the police.
The SOCTA report also looked into the impact of organised crime relating to vehicles across the continent.
Data from the research showed that Italy lost 166,075 vehicles last year; in France a total of 173,010 cars were stolen; and in Holland there were more than 85,700 incidents of vehicle theft in 2022.
Much like the UK, these nations had similar levels of recovery: around 25-30%.
Shockingly, in the USA, more than $4.5 billion worth of car theft (parts and vehicles) happened in the first six months of 2022.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau stated that more than half a million vehicles were stolen in that same time frame.
How can you protect your car from thieves?
In recent years, car and parts theft has risen across the UK – with the recovery rate remaining alarmingly low.
Some simple steps you can take to help avoid becoming part of these statistics:
>>> Look after your key, close the windows, and lock the door
>>> Avoid falling victim to ‘relay attacks’ for keyless vehicles
>>> Park in a safe location in a well-lit space (preferably with CCTV)
>>> Don’t leave valuables in plain sight
>>> Remove the sat nav and stereo
>>> If it doesn’t already have them, install car alarms, immobilisers and/or tracking devices
>>> Take extra safety measures including a steering wheel lock
>>> Leave your logbook and other legal documents in a secure location in your home
>>> Install a motion sensor where you park the vehicle at night
>>> Don’t leave your car running when you are not in it – opportunistic thieves may take advantage of the situation
Knowing how to stop thieves is a vital part of car ownership, so take note of these if you are growing concerned about the safety of your vehicle.