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Number of vehicles stolen without keys on the rise

A growing number of cars are being stolen without the keys being present as thieves turn to more sophisticated means, according to Tracker.

Tracker saw a 5% year-on-year increase in vehicle thefts and recoveries in 2017

Tracker saw a 5% year-on-year increase in vehicle thefts and recoveries in 2017

Latest figures show that 80% of all vehicles stolen and recovered by Tracker in 2017 were stolen without using the owner’s keys, up significantly from the 66% stolen in this manner in 2016.

The trend sees criminals use radio transmitters to intercept signals from keyless or ‘smart’ fobs and steal cars without actual physical access to the keys. The technology only works with keyless fobs – which allow drivers to open and start their vehicle without pressing the fob – and is not applicable to standard remote fobs.

The firm – which recently published its top 10 tips to prevent keyless ‘relay attack’ theft – also warned that thieves are turning their attentions to new regions as it revealed the top 10 locations for most stolen and recovered cars.

Although research by the car tracking specialist found that London remains the top region where cars are most stolen and recovered, with Essex still in second place, Greater Manchester jumped from seventh place in 2016, back up to third in 2017.

The analysis also showed that Cambridgeshire, Sussex and Nottinghamshire all entered the top 10 regions for the first time in 2017.

Overall, Tracker saw a 5% year-on-year increase in vehicle thefts and recoveries in 2017, with the total value of vehicles stolen recovered exceeding 12.5 million.

Tracker’s top 10 regions for car thefts and recoveries:

2017 2016
1.  London
2.  Essex
3.  Manchester/Greater Manchester
4.  West Midlands
5.  Kent
6.  West Yorkshire
7.  Surrey
8.  Cambridgeshire
9.  Sussex
10.South Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire
1.  London and Greater London
2.  Essex
3.  West Midlands
4 & 5 = West Yorkshire/Kent
6. Surrey
7. Greater Manchester
8. Merseyside
9. South Yorkshire
10. Lancashire
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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.