Brazen parts stripping on the rise with everyday cars targeted

A wave of car cannibalisation is underway across the UK as organised crime gangs seek to take advantage of a huge 35% surge in the price of common car parts.

Thieves are targeting cars parked on driveways and in public places, removing items such as bumpers, headlights and bonnets.

The technique is on the up because it eliminates the need for criminals to take the risk of stealing and store the vehicles themselves.

It is also very hard for motorists to protect against.

Experts from stolen vehicle recovery firm Tracker say car cannibalisation is growing due to the huge demand for secondhand parts. Because of the pandemic, availability has been impacted, and it is this that has also driven up the cost of spares.

"Even basic parts prices like discs, brake pads and wiper blades have shot up," says Tracker head of police liaison Clive Wain. "Car cannibalisation can be a very lucrative market for criminals."

The new practice even hit the headlines recently when Birmingham City fan Chris Pugh returned to his car after a match, to find the bonnet, headlights and number plates had been stolen. He had only left the car for a few hours – and the crime occurred in broad daylight.

For those looking to protect against car cannibalisation, Tracker says a good place to start is with a dashcam or visible CCTV.

Many dashcams now include a ‘parking mode’ which begins recording in the event of an impact or movement – and this deters thieves as they know their actions will be recorded. Similarly, a car alarm with a movement detector can also ward off thieves looking to operate undercover.

Motorists are advised to avoid parking in unlit areas, while security posts or a substantial driveway gate can deter thieves.

Visibly etching car parts that can be stolen with the vehicle’s registration number can also help – it may not help recover the parts, but such visible markings can help deter thieves from stealing them in the first place.

"Criminals are removing parts ready to be sold for cash or on the black market, as well as shipping them abroad to Europe, Middle East and Africa. Motorists must do all they can to deter criminals from targeting their car," adds Wain.

Ask HJ

Do police forces use information provided by car trackers?

Are trackers worth the money? Do police follow up tracker information?
A tracker can be an effective tool to prevent or mitigate the risks of vehicle theft, particularly if you own a vehicle that is at particular risk. Some insurance companies will offer discounted premiums if you use an approved tracking system, and should the worst happen it is usually much easier to recover the vehicle. Police forces do have the facility to use data provided by vehicle trackers, but how and when they are used may vary between constabularies, so if you are considering having one fitted it would be worth investigating if your local constabulary has an established relationship with particular tracking companies.
Answered by David Ross
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