Car thefts up by 30 per cent in three years

A thief breaks into a car during a mock-up by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in Belfast, Monday November 21, 2005. More than £1.6 million worth of property has been stolen from vehicles in Northern Ireland over the last year, police revealed today. Half of all thefts happened in residential areas, with around a quarter each in car parks and at the roadside. Audio equipment was the most regularly seized, followed by tools, car parts and handbags. See PA Story ULSTER Vehicle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA

As vehicle safety, comfort and technology improves, you might imagine security would follow this trend. But modern cars may not be as secure as their older counterparts, with police data revealing that car thefts have increased by 30 per cent over just three years.

Despite sophisticated electronic entry systems, security experts believe gangs of car thieves have caught up with technology. It's now possible for thieves to bypass vehicle security without the keys, merely by boosting the signal from a remote keyfob.

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Steve Launchbury of Thatcham Research said: "As the car is more digitally connected, obviously that opens it up to new types of criminality.

"When you have keyless-type vehicles where you physically just press a button and walk away, you've got the risk now of the signal being captured."

A total of 65,783 vehicles were reported stolen to 40 police forces in 2013, but by 2016 that number had risen to 85,688. The most car thefts by far were in London, with the Metropolitan Police receiving 26,496 reports of stolen vehicles in 2016.

A spokesman for the RAC told Sky News: "For the vast majority of us, it's the traditional security methods that we would recommend. Think about where you park your car – try and park in a well lit area, and if it's an area known for car crime or vandalism, try and avoid it.

"And then potentially use things we saw back in the 80s and 90s, like a security lock. These are both a visual and physical deterrent and we are seeing people returning to them now."

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