Luxury car brands account for nearly half of keyless thefts

Published 15 October 2020

Car theft claims have increased by 20 per cent each year since 2016, according to insurance data. The report shows that keyless car thefts account for the greatest proportion of claims.

Vehicle theft claims in London have increased by 265 per cent in the last four years, with Birmingham, Nottingham and Greater Manchester seeing individual increases of over 100 per cent - according to data from LV= Insurance.

Keyless theft is a way of stealing a vehicle without using the physical keyfob. The targeted vehicles are those with keyless entry and start systems, exploiting the technology to get into the car and drive it away.

This type of car theft is getting more and more common as the overwhelming majority of new cars offer keyless entry as standard. This feature allows drivers to unlock their car without needing to press any buttons on the key - it simply needs to be in range of the vehicle.

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Luxury car makes such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, Porsche and Tesla are increasingly affected by keyless theft, accounting for almost half (48 per cent) of all ‘theft of’ vehicle claims.

There are different ‘theft of’ circumstances that drivers claim on their car insurance for, with the average claim ranging from £6000 to almost £15,000 - depending on the type of claim. Burglary has the highest average claim cost at approx. £14,629, followed by force or threat of violence at just under £11,000, demonstrating that professional thieves are targeting more valuable vehicles. 

‘Theft from’ vehicle claims has also seen a 140 per cent rise over the last four years. This has primarily been driven by catalytic converter theft. This part is stolen for its precious metal content, with hybrid vehicles and luxury brands most regularly targeted.

Heather Smith, Managing Director at LV= GI, said: "From keyless cars to Apple’s recent CarKey partnership with BMW, car technology continues to advance. But unfortunately so do the methods criminals use to steal them. The police can only do so much, so it’s vital that drivers do everything they can to protect their vehicle, especially those driving a luxury or prestige car that is likely to attract attention."

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Engineer Andy    on 15 October 2020

Wow! Who'd thought? A blind man could've seen this coming. And yet, the motor and insurance industry carried on as if nothing changed.

conman    on 17 October 2020

I have been going on about this on Honest John for over a year and yet people are still being conned into buying these cars, paying extra for the privilege to make it easier for their cars to be stolen. Best bet nip into B&Q buy a metre of heavy duty chain together with a secure padlock, wrap this around your steering wheel and the pedals, Should look nice on a £50K merc. In fact why don't you ask them to include it as standard, so you can feel safe leaving your car.

When your car has been stolen you might have some remnants of your NCD left but I bet your policy will go through the roof. Especially if you buy another of the Keyless type.

Edited by conman on 17/10/2020 at 16:04

Brian Sallows    on 19 October 2020

Soon, most cars will have have this form of entry. Farady shields aren’t an answer , either. ; because the transmitter has to be taken out to start the car. So the villains sit while the owner drives off ,saves the signal, in the morning and returns at night to drive the car away. Likewise, in city centres , they watch the car arrive; save the locking signal and take the car when owner has walked off.

Robert McAuley    on 19 October 2020

Please change the header from luxury to expensive but then you'd fool the silly badge culture brigade

   on 20 October 2020

The closing comment in the article from an insurer says "it is vital that rivers do everything they can to protect their vehicle", but surely this must be the prime responsibility of the car manufacturer when designing their system. There have been publicised proposals to improve this technology, but it should not be beyond the wit of man to fix it....come on manufacturers and do your job!

Steve Putman    on 20 October 2020

Motor insurers are paying out for increased thefts because the car manufacturers aren't bothering to make their keyless key security secure. All it takes is an OFF button or timer on the key fob. A fingerprint reader in or on the car with PIN number backup, like that used on some laptops would be an amazing idea for future models to be protected from theft.

Paul Chapman    on 21 October 2020

The truth is, the more cars stolen the better for the car maker. Like rust, it was something they could have resolved but chose not to.

agric    on 20 October 2020

I have a 67 reg. Mercedes GLE. By reading the owner handbook I found that the keyless entry/start can be totally disabled by removing the Start/Stop button. It is easily done using a small slotted screwdriver. This means that when I enter the car I put the key into the now available key slot, turn clockwise and start the car. I am perfectly happy to do this and it also means that I know where the key is when I am leaving the car!
Thus the car cannot be started/stolen without the key.

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