PARKED CLAS­SICS ‘EASY TAR­GETS’ FOR PARTS THEFT

Or­gan­ised crim­i­nals aren’t just af­ter your cars – they’re af­ter the com­po­nents, too

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Front Page - Mur­ray Scul­lion

Teams of or­gan­ised and skilled ca­reer crim­i­nals are start­ing to steal com­po­nents off cars while parked on your drives and in garages.

Crim­i­nol­ogy ex­perts are now warn­ing clas­sic own­ers that crooks, or­ches­trated by top crime lords, are be­com­ing more cun­ning in their un­der­stand­ing of clas­sic cars fol­low­ing an out­break of parts stolen from ve­hi­cles.

The po­lice have ad­mit­ted that clas­sics of­fer a tempt­ing pack­age for thieves, as they are packed with high-value items that are easy to re­move and steal. Doors, seats and cat­alytic con­vert­ers are high on thieves’ shop­ping lists.

For­mer Stolen Ve­hi­cle Squad boss of the Met Po­lice Dr Ken Ger­man warns: ‘Crim­i­nal gangs are steal­ing parts to or­der, and clas­sic cars are high value, and are easy to steal from. Chas­sis and en­gines are num­bered, but vir­tu­ally noth­ing else is.’

Crim­i­nol­ogy ex­perts are warn­ing that car crooks are be­com­ing more me­chan­i­cally knowl­edge­able af­ter an out­break of clas­sic parts were stolen from ve­hi­cles – while still on the own­ers’ drives.

Skilled crim­i­nals have started tak­ing com­po­nents off cars in situ, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Stolen Ve­hi­cle Squad boss Dr Ken Ger­man. Now com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor of The In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Auto Theft In­ves­ti­ga­tors, he says: ‘Gangs are steal­ing parts to or­der, and clas­sics are high value, and are easy to steal from. Chas­sis and en­gines are num­bered, but vir­tu­ally noth­ing else is. Things like rear tail­gates, wheels, trim, bon­nets, cat­alytic con­vert­ers and seats are the most eas­ily stolen items.’

Re­cent ex­am­ples in­clude thefts in Lin­colnshire from 30 April- 2 May. The doors and seats of a Land Rover were stolen while in situ, and a hard top re­moved from an­other Land Rover. Dr Ger­man urges clas­sic own­ers to mark up their ve­hi­cles’ com­po­nents. ‘If there are no iden­ti­fy­ing marks on a part, it’s nearly im­pos­si­ble to get it back,’ he says.

Prop­erty mark­ing foren­sic cod­ing can help re­duce thefts and is backed by the Met Po­lice. One sup­plier, Selec­taDNA, has a specif­i­cally tai­lored clas­sic car kit. Mil­lie Quick­enden, mar­ket­ing man­ager says: ‘It con­tains dots that are vis­i­ble in UV light, and each one is unique. If the part is re­cov­ered, the po­lice can trace it back to you via a data­base.’

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