INSURERS SAY ONLY YOU CAN COMBAT CAR CRIME
They confirm lack of police resources linked to rise in classic thefts
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.