The European economy on the whole might be experiencing a crisis, but the same cannot be said for the illegal car trade, an industry operating right across Europe. Exports to the Middle East and Africa in particular often involve highly sophisticated, multimillion pound operations.
A London-based gang, which was responsible for an average of 120 car thefts per month, was arrested in 2011. Three men from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, were arrested this April on the charge of having stolen cars which were worth a total of £100,000. Three men from Bradford were sentenced for a total of twenty years for being part of a well-organised ring of car smugglers.
How to Protect Yourself
Firstly, an excellent insurance policy, especially for top end cars, is crucial.
Britain’s most frequently stolen car is the BMW X5 SUV, however cars of all shapes and sizes may be targeted for parts, from a Mercedes Sprinter van to a Fiat Panda to a Volkswagen Touareg (which is another car amongst the top ten stolen vehicles in Britain).
The use of common sense does help; not leaving an empty car unlocked and running whilst quickly withdrawing money is always a good idea. Double-checking that your car is locked, even inside a locked garage, also helps to reduce the risk of theft.
In addition to insurance and basic common sense, anti-theft devices are absolutely worth their money. Generally speaking, these are devices designed to make car theft a more difficult, slower process. By doing this, cars equipped with those devices a less attractive object for thieves, as the risk of detection increases proportionally to the time it takes to remove a car. From the list below, visual deterrents are probably the ones which are most worth investing in, as they are the easiest to install, the cheapest, and will nevertheless yield good results.
Proof that these devices really are effective lies in the fact that installing anti-theft devices also tends to reduce insurance premiums. Since insurance companies are not known for throwing around their money, anything endorsed by them must be a good idea!
Devices which lock the steering wheel are an excellent visual deterrent, as well as being a physical barrier to the removal of a car. Signage on windows, even in the absence of a sophisticated alarm system, can be enough and can be purchased cheaply.
Devices which slow down a thief
Killswitch circuits are often hidden, so that a thief, once inside the car, may have to spend additional time on figuring out the location of the switches without which the target car cannot be started.
Identification of stolen cars
Microdot identification tags are designed help the police identify (parts of) stolen vehicles. These also are often not visible deterrents, and become useful only during the tracking process.