Rise in car thefts across Sussex due to increase in key fobs

Car thefts increased last year in Sussex according to the latest police recorded crime figures, likely propelled by an increase in keyless cars.

The trend has led vehicle manufacturers to demand tighter controls on the ‘open sale’ of equipment used by criminals to steal cars.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, 1,855 vehicles were stolen, data from the Home Office has revealed.

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That is an increase of 12 per cent on one year earlier, when 1,650 thefts were recorded.

Car thefts in Sussex rose by 12 per cent between April 2018 and March 2018 compared to the previous 12 months

That means, in Sussex, 11 vehicles were stolen for every 10,000 residents in the area.

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Car thefts are on the up in England and Wales, increasing by 15 per cent since 2016-17, and 40 per cent over the last five years.

Police and motoring campaigners have said this is probably due to a rise in keyless car thefts.

A spokesman from the Association of British Insurers said criminals are exploiting the vulnerabilities of the entry system by using pairs of radio transmitters to capture the signal from the vehicle’s fob, among other methods.

He added: “The theft risk will be one of many factors taken into account by insurers when assessing the price of your motor insurance policy.

“In recent years the average cost of motor insurance has been rising – in 2017, the average motor premium paid rose by nine per cent on 2016 to a record high.”

Nationally, about 70 per cent of vehicle-related thefts occurred at home and during the evening or night.

The ONS said 43 per cent of perpetrators entered the vehicle through an unlocked door, while breaking in through car windows has become less common in recent years.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, said: “Manufacturers are investing billions in ever more sophisticated security features and software updates on an ongoing basis.

“However, we continue to call for action to stop the open sale of equipment which helps criminals steal cars – equipment which has no legal purpose – and have written to the Home Secretary seeking a meeting to agree how this can be addressed.”

In Sussex there were 116 cases of aggravated robbery – for driving the stolen vehicle dangerously on the road or causing an accident.

Police also recorded 4,707 incidents related to thefts from vehicles, either of personal belongings, radios or other items.

That is an increase of 12.7 per cent from the previous year.

There were 982 crimes where the vehicle was damaged as part of an attempted theft, where the intent of the offender was not obvious.