They con­firm lack of po­lice re­sources linked to rise in clas­sic thefts

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News Analysis - Sam Skel­ton

Clas­sic in­sur­ers say that a de­cline in po­lice re­sources ded­i­cated to ve­hi­cle crime is go­ing hand-in-hand with a spike in thefts.

CCW re­ported on 8 June that cuts made to po­lice Stolen Ve­hi­cle Units across the UK were help­ing to fuel an 8% rise in car crime, with at­tempted thefts up by more than a third.

In­sur­ance firms have no­ticed the in­crease in thefts from their own fig­ures, and are now tak­ing steps to try and help own­ers pro­tect their clas­sics.

Foot­man James’ se­nior mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive Liam Lloyd says: ‘When we saw

CCW’s ar­ti­cle, we did a bit of check­ing of our own – we’ve def­i­nitely seen a re­cent year-on-year in­crease in theft sta­tis­tics, no­tably of 1980s hot hatches as they in­crease in de­sir­abil­ity, and of cer­tain clas­sics stolen for parts.

‘This is ob­vi­ously a wor­ry­ing trend and we en­cour­age and work closely with own­ers to en­sure they take all the pos­si­ble steps to re­duce the risk.’

Mar­cus Atkin­son of Hagerty In­ter­na­tional says his firm has seen a link in an in­crease in car crime with a the de­crease in po­lice re­sources.

‘When cars go miss­ing from clients’ drive­ways and garages we no­tify the po­lice and usu­ally get a crime ref­er­ence num­ber – but lit­tle more,’ he says.

‘In one in­stance we ac­tu­ally found the car for sale – an Es­cort RS2000 – but the po­lice would not come out and take ac­tion un­til two of our staff had posed as buy­ers and cross-ref­er­enced the en­gine and body num­bers against what we have on record. Only then

did they come and re­trieve the car. It’s fair to say the po­lice don’t re­gard stolen clas­sics as a pri­or­ity.’ An­other in­sur­ance ex­pert – who asked to remain anony­mous – says that over the past 12 months there has been a 50% in­crease in theft-re­lated claims from clas­sic and his­toric ve­hi­cle own­ers. Her­itage Clas­sic Car In­sur­ance has also no­ticed the rise in car crime and is of­fer­ing free Sky­tag GPS track­ers to all its cus­tomers to off­set the risk. Man­ag­ing part­ner Mark Wilkin­son said: ‘Thefts of clas­sic cars – es­pe­cially 1980s ex­am­ples – have in­creased. To try to com­bat this we’re of­fer­ing free Sky­tag track­ers to all our cus­tomers. ‘While we don’t deal di­rectly with the po­lice, our clients’ feed­back and that on so­cial me­dia sug­gest that the po­lice at­ti­tude to­ward car crime is

that it’s in­evitable – and that we should be fo­cus­ing more upon re­cov­ery than pre­ven­tion.’

Many of the forces CCW spoke to do not have ded­i­cated ve­hi­cle crime units, while ex­ist­ing ones like New Scot­land Yard’s have been de­peleted, be­ing cut from a work­force of 30 in the 1990s to just 10 in 2016. Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Ser­vice of­fi­cer Simon Fisher sug­gests that num­bers within the unit do not re­flect upon car crime sta­tis­tics. He says: ‘Car crime is dealt with by in­di­vid­ual bor­oughs – while we have an Or­gan­ised Ve­hi­cle Crime Unit it deals more with or­gan­ised car crime by gangs than with ve­hi­cle theft in gen­eral.

‘That unit has been work­ing with the Lon­don Crime Squad, Au­to­matic Num­ber Plate Recog­ni­tion team and bor­ough of­fi­cers to tackle per­pe­tra­tors of this crime.’

While clas­sic Fords like the Es­cort RS2000 are still hot prop­erty with crim­i­nals, it seems the po­lice aren’t al­ways hot on their case.

The re­duc­tion in force bud­gets has meant fewer re­sources are be­ing ded­i­cated to ve­hi­cle crime. CCW 8 June.

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