Car thefts are fueled by lack of spare parts as gangs strip vehicles of parts to sell within hours, police warn
- Factory closures due to the pandemic have led to a shortage of auto parts
- Thieves are now dismantling cars ‘in hours so they can sell the parts’
- Thirty-four forces recorded a total of 88,915 vehicle thefts in the year to March 7
A rise in vehicle thefts has been linked by police to a shortage of auto parts.
Thieves disassemble the cars “within hours” so they can sell the parts for “high prices”, a senior officer said.
West Midlands Police Superintendent Jim Munro said: ‘There is a desire for certain vehicle parts, and that is fueling motor vehicle theft.
Thieves disassemble the cars “within hours” so they can sell the parts for “high prices”, a senior officer said. A stock photo is used above
Thirty-four forces recorded a total of 88,915 vehicle thefts in the year to March 7, the figures show.
Six strength areas saw an increase from the same period two years earlier: South Yorkshire (+28%), City of London (+25%), West Midlands (+19%), Surrey (+12%) , Merseyside (+4%) and Greater Manchester (+1%).
Factory closures due to the pandemic have led to parts shortages.
Thirty-four forces recorded a total of 88,915 vehicle thefts in the year to March 7, the figures show. A stock photo is used above
Mr Munro said: “What we have seen during the pandemic is that there are parts supply issues in the automotive industry and construction delays.
“What we’ve seen in the West Midlands is also what we’ve seen across the room nationally.”
He described the process as ‘unauthorized dismantling of vehicles’, adding: ‘Vehicles are stolen, sometimes taken to nearby industrial units, people will work overnight in industrial areas and sometimes these vehicles have been stripped in a few hours.
“The parts are then sold and the shells await scrap.”
He continued: “We have seen issues with microchips, but also with particular vehicle parts that have been difficult for people to get.
“Some of these coins are being sold for quite high prices due to demand.”
Munro said there is a correlation between the most common car brands on the road and the models most targeted by thieves, as their parts have “particularly high value due to the number of people who want them”.
Police are using a variety of tactics to try to slow the wave of vehicle thefts.
More than 2,000 suspects have been arrested by West Midlands Police in the past 12 months as part of Operation Cantil, which has also recovered 1,000 stolen cars.
A number of chop shops – places where stolen vehicles are dismantled – have been discovered and taken out of use.
The forces are also working with the auto industry to predict which car brands will be vulnerable in the future and examine how their safety features can be improved.
Location-based technology is also used to send Instagram posts with car safety tips to drivers as they visit dealerships.
Munro urged motorists wishing to avoid becoming a victim to “focus on where they leave their vehicle”.
He said many people mistakenly assume their car would be safe when parked for a short time in a location such as a business park, believing most thefts occur outside homes.
“Criminals exploit this,” he explained. “They use devices to block signals where people try to lock their cars with their key fobs.
“When you lock your vehicle, make sure the vehicle is locked, the signal is not blocked, no matter how long you leave the vehicle.
“Whether it’s just to enter the store, make sure your car is always safe.”