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David Jamieson: Car makers failing to stem tide of thefts

By Pete Madeley | Crime | Published:

Car makers are failing to tackle a rise in stolen vehicles that has led to one police officer being seriously injured, a force chief says.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson says car makers need to do more to deter potential thieves

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson says the growing market for car parts is fuelling a rise in vehicle thefts, putting the public and police officers in “serious danger”.

He has today written to the UK’s main motor industry body demanding manufacturers make their vehicles more secure, saying efforts to improve security were “going at snail’s pace”.

It comes after a West Midlands Police officer was attacked and run over with his own patrol car while he was trying to arrest a suspected car thief in Birmingham.

Mr Jamieson released figures this week naming and shaming car manufacturers whose vehicles were most likely to be stolen, with Ford, Audi, BMW and Mercedes coming out as the worst.

In the first seven months this year, the force recorded 5,527 stolen motor vehicles – double the entire amount stolen in 2015 – while in the year to March, 36,936 vehicle offences were recorded.

It comes amid concern that keyless technology is being taken advantage of by thieves who now see modern cars as easy pickings. Mr Jamieson today told the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to “close security loopholes” in locking systems.

He said: “The growing demand for car parts, poor security of vehicles and the thefts that result are causing serious danger to the public and police officers.”

“Many vehicle thefts result in highly dangerous pursuits, risking the lives of both police officers and members of the public. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.

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“I am angry at the apparent ease at which criminals are stealing cars.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The recent increase in vehicle theft is a concern and industry takes the matter extremely seriously.

"Manufacturers are investing billions of pounds in new security features to try to stay one step ahead of the criminals, but technology can only do so much.

"A coordinated approach is needed and we continue to call for action to stop the open sale of equipment which helps thieves steal cars – equipment which has no legal purpose – and have already joined both the West Midlands Police and West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s representatives in a Home Office taskforce to see how this can be addressed.”

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West Midlands PCC David Jamieson explains why more should be done to foil car thieves

Car manufacturers have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to vehicle security.

My campaign to tackle vehicle thefts has now moved up a gear, after an incident where a West Midlands police officer received serious life changing injuries, following a pursuit of a stolen keyless vehicle, writes West Midlands Police and Crime Comissioner David Jamieson.

I am angry at the ease at which criminals are stealing cars across the West Midlands and I am especially concerned about the vulnerability of keyless vehicles.

The cost and expense of the vehicles being so easily stolen is falling on every single one of us who are paying car insurance.

Earlier this week, I published the latest statistics which names and shames manufacturers whose vehicles are most at risk of being stolen.

So far in 2019, we have had 5,527 vehicles stolen. That’s more than double the entire amount stolen in 2015.

West Midlands Police know I expect it to keep up the pressure on vehicle thefts. In recent months the force has netted over 1,000 suspects and recovered hundreds of vehicles.

Police action alone won’t stop this problem, that’s why the manufacturers have to tighten their security too.

I have pledged to publish car theft data every six months so drivers across region can make informed decisions about which vehicles to buy.

I also penned an open letter to the voice of the UK motor industry, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, calling on them tackle the rise in vehicle theft.

West Midlands Police recognise that whilst keyless technology has made life more convenient for motorists, it has also made stealing vehicles more convenient for criminals.

As keyless technology has grown in popularity, more and more cars have vanished from driveways as their owners sleep. Some vehicles are being stolen by criminals in less than a minute.

Keyless cars are increasingly being targeted by organised gangs who are taking advantage of weaknesses in vehicle security systems. Once stolen the vehicles are often shipped abroad or cut up and sold for parts in illegal garages.

Statistics show that Ford is the most vulnerable car amongst thieves. The number of those stolen has risen from 489 in 2015 to 1,557 so far in 2019.

The data also shows the increased thefts of both Audi and Mercedes-Benz. 432 Audi’s have been stolen so far this year, compared to 199 in 2015. Thefts of Mercedes-Benz from 114 in 2015 to 529 so far this year.

Last year, I started a national campaign to get car makers and the Government to demand they do more to prevent cars from being taken by crooks.

These criminals are not only taking what doesn’t belong to them, but putting lives at risk.

I urge car manufacturers to take the necessary steps to combat theft and protect West Midlands motorists.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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