Car manufacturers need to 'get their act together' as vehicle theft soars, police chief says

Car manufacturers need to "get their act together" to bolster security on vehicles as thefts continue to soar across the region, a police chief has said.

Car thefts have risen dramatically across the West Midlands in the past five years
Car thefts have risen dramatically across the West Midlands in the past five years

Latest figures from West Midlands Police show car thefts have increased more than a third in the last year alone – with it almost quadrupling since 2015.

Police officials believe the substantial increase is partly down to criminals taking advantage of key-less access to more modern vehicles across the region.

Figures show in 2017 there were 5,671 car thefts in just one year and this had risen to 9,086 in 2019 and 8,453 in 2020.

Now the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has launched a crackdown as they called for manufacturers to take action and for tougher regulations to be implemented.

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Wasim Ali, speaking to the Express & Star, said: "Cars have become more modern in the last 10 years or so – there's now key-less vehicles. The big issue with this technology is that there's devices that can replicate it.

"Before this, they (the criminals) would have to pick the lock and enter the vehicle – but I would imagine a very small proportion of car thefts equated to that kind of method of thefts nowadays, because more and more manufacturers are going in the way of key-less cars.

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Wasim Ali

"The Government, a few years ago, released statistics in which they would call out car manufacturers. Now we've done a lot of research on this ourselves, and we're seeing a lot of Abarths, Range Rovers and others being stolen and these vehicles are all key-less vehicles.

"That's why we want to make sure we're calling this out to Jaguar Land Rover, to the BMWs, to Mercedes, and other vehicles which have key-less access. They are making a whole lot of money, and what we're saying is why not invest that money into helping the vehicle stay with the customer?

"I would like to tell them that when they are selling these cars, think of their customers and make sure the cars are kept with the customer. They need to get their act together – they have the responsibility to make sure their vehicles are safe and secure and won't be stolen and we're going to keep calling them out until they are."

The police chief said it was the responsibility of the manufacturers to ensure the cars they sell have top notch security, adding if "someone in a shed can create something that can get into the car in about 30 seconds" then it didn't reflect well on the car firms.

Mr Ali said another reason the force believes there is an increase in thefts is because of a shortage of vehicles globally, with cars becoming more expensive which has had an impact on the region.

Police chiefs are also pressing for the Government to publish lists of stolen cars and manufacturers and introduce legislation to clamp down on the anti-lock sector, so even when a person has a device – capable of unlocking a car – the police knows who they are and DBS checks are carried out.

EBay and Facebook and other market places should introduce checks so people selling huge volumes of car parts are thoroughly checked, car manufacturers should invest more in security and motorists should follow advice from police.

And calls have been made for car dealers to give out steel locks and Faraday Pouches to people buying a car to allow the buyer the utmost protection.

"This is the fault of the car manufacturers and they should be doing their bit (to fix it)," Mr Ali added.

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