Following a shortage of components brought on by the pandemic, car thefts have increased in some areas of the UK.
According to police, criminals are dismantling cars “in a matter of hours” and, in some cases, “minutes,” in order to sell the pieces for a profit. 34 of the 46 UK police forces that provided data in response to freedom of information requests reported that about 89,000 vehicle thefts occurred during the year ending on March 7.
According to the data, 244 vehicles are stolen on average each day, or one every six minutes. When compared to the same period two years prior, prior to the Covid epidemic, six forces saw an increase in thefts.
West Midlands police superintendent Jim Munro cautioned drivers against assuming their cars were secure even if they were only left in parking lots for a short while. “What we’ve observed over the period is that there are some delays with builds and challenges with parts supply going into the motor business,” he said. “There is a demand for certain vehicle parts, which is fueling motor vehicle theft crimes.”
Worldwide factory closures were a result of the pandemic for manufacturers. A severe lack of semiconductor chips and other parts is currently affecting the automotive industry. According to data released by the PA news agency, South Yorkshire saw the biggest increase in vehicle thefts, up 28% from the year prior to the outbreak.
The second-highest increase, at 25%, was reported by police in the City of London. West Midlands police forces reported an increase of 19%, and Surrey police reported an increase of 12%.
In so-called chop shops, Munro dubbed the activity “unauthorized car dismantling.” He claimed that after being stolen, cars were brought to industrial buildings where “people will work through the night and sometimes these vehicles have been stripped in a matter of hours.” The shells have been waiting to be scrapped while the parts are sold on.
Senior police have stated that a range of strategies are being used to stem the flood of thefts. Over 2,000 people have been detained in the West Midlands over the course of the last year as part of an operation that has also recovered about 1,000 stolen vehicles. According to police, a number of chop shops were shut down. The most vulnerable car brands are being identified by makers of vehicles and parts so that security can be enhanced.
Many individuals believe it is safe to leave automobiles parked for a short period of time in retail parks and other places, says Munro, because they believe that most vehicle thefts happen outside of houses. He continued, “Criminals are taking advantage of this. They use gadgets to block signals where individuals are trying to lock their cars with their fobs.”