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04 Mar 2019
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

The 10 most stolen cars in Britain

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If you drive one of the vehicles on our list, you might want to look into extra security. 

Thief trying to break into a car

If you’re looking to buy a new car, it’s worth checking whether it’s on the list of most stolen vehicles in the UK. 

According to figures from stolen vehicle recovery service, TRACKER, top-of-the-range vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW make up the majority of cars stolen and recovered in 2018. 

But opportunist thieves won’t just target high-end models. And in recent years, thieves have become more adept at accessing cars by hacking keyless entry systems.

With thieves using technology to overcome even the most robust security systems, many are left confused as to how they can protect their car. We’re here to help.

The UK’s most stolen cars are:

  1. BMW X5

  2. Mercedes-Benz C-class

  3. BMW 3 Series

  4. Mercedes-Benz E-class

  5. BMW 5 Series

  6. Range Rover Vogue

  7. Land Rover Discovery

  8. Range Rover Sport

  9. Mercedes S Class

  10. Mercedes GLE 

High price models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominate the top 10 most stolen vehicles. 

In fact, three BMW models make up the top 10. The BMW 3 and 5 Series rank at third and fifth place respectively.

But the X5 takes the top spot, rising to first from second place in 2017.

However, Mercedes have four of their models in the top 10. Compared to last year, the C-class has dropped from first to second place, with the S Class and GLE coming in at the bottom of the list.

Aside from Mercedes and BMW, Land Rover and Range Rover also make up the rest of the top 10.

Read more: Eight great car security tips 

Threat of keyless car theft increasing 

According to TRACKER’s reports, keyless entry car theft is on the rise. A shocking 88% of the vehicles recovered using TRACKER’s device were stolen without the owner’s keys.

This is an increase of 8% from 2017 figures but, perhaps more worryingly, an increase of 22% since 2016.

A common method of keyless car theft is a relay attack, which involves manipulating the signal between the owner’s key fob and the vehicle.

Thief using device

Criminals continually adapting their techniques

It’s clear that thieves are targeting prestige brands - the average value of stolen and recovered cars in 2018 was £20,000.

The most expensive vehicle was a Rolls Royce Ghost worth £120,000, the least a Toyota Land Cruiser worth £1,000.

Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker, explains:

 “Organised criminal gangs make a living out of stealing to order or taking what they know will sell quickly, and it’s a thriving, albeit illegal, profession. 

 What’s more, these people have highly sophisticated skills, continually adapting their techniques to counter technology introduced by manufacturers to safeguard vehicles.”

Read more: Beat car thieves: 10 insider tips 

Steering wheel lock

Car security tips

It’s important for all vehicle owners to consider security, Wain says.

“Although premium models dominate the top 10, the opportunist thief will take any vehicle they can gain access to, so it’s vital that owners think about their vehicle security measures to make it harder for criminals.”

Keeping your car secure not only reduces the chance that it’ll be stolen, but upgrading your security can help to reduce your car insurance premiums.

To prevent thieves, the Metropolitan Police advise using an electronic car key security pouch to prevent it being scanned. And when storing your keys, keep them out of sight. It’s not unusual for thieves to fish for them through a letterbox. 

You should always double check you’ve locked your vehicle too, and be aware of anyone standing nearby. There’s a chance they could be waiting to block your signal and potentially gain access.

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Though they can’t stop signals being intercepted, tracker systems can increase the chances of your car being recovered and returned to the police. TRACKER uses a system that can locate vehicles anywhere, including garages or shipping containers. 

“Thanks to our long-standing working relationship with all UK police forces, over 78 suspected thieves were arrested in connection with the vehicles we recovered.” Says Wain.

“Not only that, but an additional 79 stolen vehicles were found alongside those vehicles recovered that were fitted with a TRACKER unit.”

Read more: Keyless entry vehicles more likely to be stolen

wheel locking system

To further protect against criminals hacking your fob signal, traditional methods of security can help to keep your vehicle secure. 

Alarms and immobilisers are usually fitted as standard for new vehicles. You can also give your car a distinct mark that can be used to identify it. 

Marking can be as simple as writing on various parts with an ultraviolet pen, or covering it with thousands of microdots encoded with your details.

Parking in a locked garage is ideal, but even a driveway can offer more security. However this isn’t always an option, so a lock on the steering wheel, handbrake or gearstick will provide an extra level of security. These also have the added bonus of being visible, which will deter thieves even further. 

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