Having your car stolen, or something stolen from it, is perhaps the biggest frustration any driver can go through.
Statistics show that approximately one in five drivers have suffered from some kind of car part theft and with over 60,000 vehicles stolen in 2022 – a 26% increase on the previous year – many road users have found their pride and joy has become a target for unscrupulous thieves and criminals.
Luckily, evolving technology is helping some car owners become more aware of the heightened risk and assisting them in minimising the potential for theft. That is not to say all drivers will follow suit; many may still find themselves exposed to damage and theft. As a result, in this edition of our blog, we look at the most common items stolen from cars in the UK and what you can do to help prevent you from becoming a victim.
A study carried out by the team at Compare The Market discovered that thieves do seem to like mixing up their targets. This depends on the vehicle, with particular brands being targeted more for their badge or hood ornament than any mechanical part or piece of tech.
That being said, this report found that wing mirrors are the most commonly stolen part of most cars. With approximately 1.4 million drivers having had one stolen, this equates to 17% of UK road users finding a wing mirror missing when they go to start their car up for work.
You may be surprised to hear such an item garners such interest, but with many wing mirrors incorporating tech that could be sold on for a profit, they are often an easy target for criminals.
Next up on the list were wheels and number plates. Number plate cloning is a major crime that can result in significant costs to you as the true extent of the criminal actions come to light. Wheels are also popular due to their potential sell-on value. These two items combined make up 26% of the car parts theft market, each with an even 13% share.
Then, as mentioned at the top of this section, the hood ornaments and badges are the next most common car part stolen. 12% of drivers have had this offence take place on their vehicle. Rounding off the top five but likely to increase is the theft of catalytic converters. They currently have just a 10% share of the stolen car parts market, but the high value they hold and the creativity of thieves means they could soon become the most stolen car part on vehicles in the UK. Valuable as scrap metal, it not only proves to be valuable to the criminal, but also stops you from passing an MOT emissions test.
Thieves don’t just target the parts that make your car work or look good. Often, they want to get to what is inside. From car radios to mobile phones, and from game consoles to tablets, electrical goods are the most targeted items from inside the car. 31% of victims state their car radio was stolen when their car was broken into.
Luckily, this figure will likely be reduced thanks to DAB radios becoming more prominent in motor vehicles. Sat Navs are also a popular choice among thieves when they are not part of an integrated system, so it is worth remembering to remove them when leaving the car. Unfortunately, some things you may not think of could lead to a car break-in even if all the tech is hidden away. For example, windscreen mounts and charging cables on show in a car could lead thieves to think something valuable is stashed in the glovebox.
Personal tech such as mobile phones, tablets or hand-held consoles are items with high sell-on values. Leaving these, or any indication of ownership of them on display, could mean that opportunistic thieves will spot an opportunity.
Perhaps rather unusually, shopping is another high target area for those stealing from cars. 17% of people reporting theft from their cars have had their shopping taken. This varies from bags of groceries directly from the boot of your car, clothing hanging from a handle or expensive equipment you are in the process of unloading.
The best prevention here is simply awareness and common sense. Remove items that may attract thieves, and don’t leave something on display that could support a criminal’s intuition.
We can all do things to prevent the theft of parts from our cars, but sometimes, no matter what you try, you still put yourself in the firing line of criminals.
With the data obtained from Compare The Market, we see that on-street parking is the worst location for car part theft with 19% of car part theft happening there.
14% of incidents took place on a residential street whilst perhaps surprisingly, 13% of offences took place on the driveway.
There are some locations considerably safer than others, though. Train stations, schools and gyms seem to see the fewest number of car part thefts across the UK.
Across the UK, there appear to be several car part theft hotspots. The majority of these are in England. 28% of the drivers that reported a car part stolen had it happen in London, whilst Birmingham was not too far behind with 24% of drivers reporting a part theft in the city. Alarmingly, the stats for London show that car theft related crime has jumped by a huge 256% in the past four years.
On the safer side of things, both Edinburgh and Brighton were reported as the least likely areas for car part theft with 8% and 10% of car part crimes recorded there respectively.
There are a few things you can do that could prevent the theft of car parts and the items inside your vehicle. Whilst not always 100% foolproof, they will hopefully deter thieves enough to minimise the risk.
Install an alarm. It may sound obvious, however a loud alarm will not only spook the thief but also alert neighbours (or anyone passing) to the disturbance. Have a tracker fitted, too, so that should your car be stolen, there is a better chance of it being relocated
Be aware of where you park. With a high number of car-related crimes happening on residential roads and driveways, it pays to be aware of the risk. Consider using your garage for your car and somewhere with CCTV if parking on a roadside
Purchase car security features. Locking wheel nuts, steering wheel locks and locks for catalytic converters, for example, can all make a thief’s job much harder – so much so that they may leave your car alone rather than struggle with attempting the crime and run the risk of being spotted
Remove valuables and any trace of them. If you have equipment that could be of high sell-on value, don’t only remember to remove it from the vehicle but also remove any trace of it. Charging cables and window mounts can be a key indicator to criminals that there may be some lucrative equipment stored in the car
Protect yourself from fuel theft. Sometimes, the criminals may not want a piece of your car, but rather what helps it run. Our guide to preventing fuel theft should help you eliminate this risk
Use a car cover. Whilst not an expensive or foolproof deterrent, this cheap and effective way of theft prevention works. The expensive wing mirrors, premium hub caps or left-behind tech won’t be spotted right away and should a thief decide it is worth assuming you have any of these items, the frantic removal of the cover will not only alert people but may frustrate the thief and prevent them going any further
Park with your wheels towards the curb or other vehicles. This perhaps sounds trivial, but if the end goal is to steal your car, having to straighten it up, reverse a little and ease past another vehicle, the criminal loses all chance of a speedy getaway.
RFID wallets. Smart tech allows people to gain access to your vehicle without even using your key fob. They need access to the signal your fob produces to break in, but if you block it with an RFID wallet, they can’t access that signal
The theft of cars, car parts and vehicle contents is a huge crime across the UK and unfortunately, some reports show that 72% of stolen vehicles are never recovered. Should you be in the market to find a car that presents you with a more secure option whilst still being a quality vehicle, speak to Euphoria Finance. With new car finance as well as used car finance available to all, we can help you find the car you want affordably and easily. Our position as a direct lender and not a broker means that we can even offer car finance for people with bad credit. Why not contact us today and see how you can drive a new, more thief-proof car away tomorrow?