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We look at how criminals steal cars and what you can do to prevent it

Earl Angell

January 5th 2022

The BBC reported recently* (04/01/2022) that in 2021 West-Midlands Police arrested more than 2000 people on suspicion of stealing cars.  In 1 case alone, 5 teenagers were arrested on suspicion of being linked to a spree of 30 car key burglaries!

The west midlands isn’t alone in this, according to our theft data from 2021, the West-midlands came in at number 2 on the car theft hotspot list, making up 11% of all thefts reported to us. The highest? London and the greater metropolitan area, making up a whopping 57% of all thefts reported to Trackstar! In contract, Wiltshire in the south-west had the lowest

So how are the thieves doing this and why?

The BBC reported that West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said criminal gangs were behind many thefts.

“There is, sadly, a lot of money to be made by criminals in the stolen car market, especially when it comes to spare parts,” he said.

The market for stolen vehicles in the UK, due to the high price for parts and also a lack of availability is growing and unfortunately for the owners, as soon as car manufacturers implement new and technologically advanced security systems, organised car thieves are already working to identify and exploit vulnerabilities which help to facilitate their criminal activities.

So how do they do it? Currently the most common method of vehicle theft is relay attack. Criminals use hardware to clone the signal from your keyless entry fob and ‘trick’ your vehicle in to thinking that the key is nearby, allowing the holder of the cloned signal access to your vehicle and the ability to start and drive it away.  This method of theft is so prolific that in 2021, 99.2% of all thefts reported to us were stolen through keyless means.

There are a few methods with which you can protect yourself from this type of theft – the cheapest and simplest way being by ensuring your keys are kept far away from access points in your property, such as doors and windows and preferably also in a faraday pouch, which blocks your key’s signal and prevents it from being read.


With the best will in the world however, if a criminal gang is determined to, they will find a way to steal the car they have targeted, so after preventative methods, such as the faraday pouch, the next most important priority for any car owner should be ensuring they have a reliable method of recovery.  Many new cars now have built in security features such as e-call, b-call, and stolen vehicle tracking, all of which have the ability to locate a vehicle but with only SVT providing a dedicated stolen vehicle tracking service that works away from the vehicle. In Europe e-call is mandatory and usually free, b-call is usually provided free of charge for a period of time and SVT is occasionally provided for free but more often than not is offered on a subscription basis to which one must subscribe to obtain its benefits.

Teletrac Navman offers these services to several vehicle manufacturers and under the trading name of Trackstar Stolen Vehicle Tracking also offers aftermarket stolen vehicle tracking systems for those without SVT on their vehicle, or even for those with the service that would like extra peace of mind.

Aftermarket stolen vehicle trackers are fast and secure and disabling a vehicle’s electronics won’t disable an aftermarket tracking system.  All Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking systems are Thatcham S7 or S5 approved and with a response time of less than 1 second after we have been notified of a theft by the system, it helps to you stand the best chance of recovering your vehicle in the shortest time, intact.



Teletrac Navman UK Ltd theft data: Jan-Dec 2021
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