Drivers warned of major losses as car thieves target £71m of ‘highly desirable’ parts
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More than £71million worth of car parts have been stolen last year alone, as motorists are being warned of the elevated threat. An estimated 474,600 parts were stolen from vehicles across the UK in the past three years, with 53,000 number plates and 40,000 catalytic converters pilfered.
Over the past three years, the total value of stolen cars and parts has reached £744 million.
This is the equivalent of nearly £680,000 being stolen every day.
Direct Line, who commissioned the research, is now urging motorists to take extra steps to protect their vehicle and its parts.
The research, obtained from local policing authorities in the UK via a Freedom of Information Act, found that last year an estimated 474,600 parts were stolen from vehicles.
The most common car part stolen is the number plate, with a huge 53,400 stolen from vehicles last year.
The rise of CCTV and ANPR cameras has led to a rise in criminals stealing number plates to put on another vehicle, which they may use to commit an offence, trying to minimise the risk of detection.
The second most stolen parts were catalytic converters, the exhaust emission control device also known as CATs, with 39,900 taken by car thieves.
It was catalytic converters that were found to be the most expensive part stolen, with the total value of items taken since 2019 costing over £16million.
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According to the Metropolitan Police Service, catalytic converters are often targeted by thieves as they contain valuable metals and can be removed in less than a minute.
Lorraine Price, Head of Direct Line Motor Insurance, commented: “A car and its parts can be one of the most expensive items we purchase in our lifetime and unfortunately this makes them highly desirable to thieves.
“The total value of cars and parts stolen over the past few years is truly staggering and a wake-up call to all of us to make sure we’re taking the right precautions when it comes to securing our vehicles.
“The research shows the most popular car parts stolen, number plates and catalytic converters, are both on the outside of the car, meaning it is simply not enough to just double lock your vehicle.
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“Motorists should make sure to park in well-lit, populated areas and look out for CCTV cameras.”
The increase in value of catalytic converters in recent years has seen these become a greater target.
One convicted car thief said they could get a minimum of £150 for a catalytic converter, adding they could get 30 or 40 in one night alone.
Professor Rachel Armitage, Professor of Criminology, University of Huddersfield, said: “Our research shows that theft of parts from vehicles is a common offence, as criminals see it as high reward and low risk.
“Many of the convicted thieves in our study were returning to the crime as it is an easy to commit opportunist offence, especially with many cars being left unsecured.
“Ease of entering or stealing vehicles was a recurring theme, with a streamlined process of selling parts and property stolen from unattended vehicles to gain cash.”
In 2021, nearly 112,000 cars were reported as stolen to police forces across the UK, with a combined value of over £260million.
The Metropolitan Police Service received the greatest number of reports of stolen vehicles in 2021, with almost 31,000 cars stolen across the capital.
Previous research from Direct Line Motor Insurance found that Range Rovers made up nearly two fifths of all stolen cars identified insight from convicted car thieves, suggesting a rise in cars stolen to order.
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