Ris­ing car val­ues – and or­gan­ised gangs ex­ploit­ing them – are blamed for giv­ing Bri­tain one of Europe’s high­est theft rates

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - FRONT PAGE - Mur­ray Scul­lion

Only 11 clas­sic cars have been re­cov­ered after be­ing stolen be­tween mid-2015 and the end of 2016. A to­tal of 217 clas­sic ve­hi­cles were stolen in the UK – the third high­est in Europe. Only Italy and France pipped us to the un­wanted post of coun­tries with the most stolen clas­sics, with 291 and 275 re­spec­tively. Bri­tish po­lice spe­cial­ists are now be­ing given ad­di­tional train­ing days on iden­ti­fy­ing and in­ves­ti­gat­ing clas­sic thefts.

Ken Ger­man, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Auto Theft In­ves­ti­ga­tors says: ‘Clearly a great deal of ef­fort has been in­vested into this clas­sic crime pre­ven­tion ex­er­cise, but own­ers can also help by mark­ing their ve­hi­cles.’

‘A great deal of ef­fort has been in­vested into this crime pre­ven­tion ex­er­cise’

Po­lice have man­aged to re­cover just five per cent of the 217 clas­sic ve­hi­cles stolen in the UK be­tween the mid­dle of 2015 and the end of 2016.

The UK’s rate of clas­sic car theft dur­ing this pe­riod was the third high­est in Europe, lag­ging only be­hind Italy (where 291 clas­sics were stolen) and France (275).

Ex­perts be­lieve that or­gan­ised Euro­pean gangs are re­spon­si­ble for many of the thefts and new fig­ures re­leased by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Auto Theft In­ves­ti­ga­tors (IAATI) show that many po­lice au­thor­i­ties were un­aware that they had a spe­cific prob­lem with the theft of ve­hi­cles more than 30 years old.

Bri­tish po­lice forces ar­rested sev­eral gangs re­spon­si­ble for steal­ing Land Rovers and Minis, some­thing that they they claim will con­sid­er­ably re­duce the gangs’ mo­men­tum in 2017.

This year also marks the be­gin­ning of a se­ries of or­gan­ised train­ing days and work­shops for po­lice spe­cial­ists on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and in­ves­ti­ga­tion of older ve­hi­cles.

Ve­hi­cle ex­perts from the po­lice, IAATI and the The So­ci­ety of Mo­tor Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Traders (SMMT) have worked to­gether to en­sure that spe­cially nom­i­nated force ex­perts can now ac­quire the skills and knowl­edge nec­es­sary to iden­tify the most com­monly stolen clas­sic ve­hi­cles, par­tic­u­larly those that have been cloned or stripped.

Ken Ger­man, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor of the IAATI adds: ‘Clearly a great deal of ef­fort has been in­vested into this clas­sic crime pre­ven­tion ex­er­cise and in re­turn own­ers can re­spond by covertly mark­ing their ve­hi­cles in var­i­ous places and keep­ing records of all de­tails and changes made to them should they be stolen.’

A greater un­der­stand­ing of the fraud usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with the theft and re­sale of older ve­hi­cles will also be ex­am­ined and dis­cussed by the po­lice, IAATI, and SMMT.

Bob Beau­mont, who had parts stolen from his Austin-Healey Sprite last year while it was in his lock up, wel­comes more spec­i­fied train­ing for the po­lice. He says: ‘It may help the re­cov­ery of stolen cars by iden­ti­fy­ing trends. This sort of crime ap­pears to be in­creas­ing as clas­sic car val­ues rise.’ Ja­son Turner, mean­while, had his MGB Road­ster stolen in London in Septem­ber 2016 and hasn’t seen it since. He says: ‘Mod­ern cars are get­ting in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to steal, mean­ing the clas­sic theft mar­ket will in­crease con­sid­er­ably.’

Few of the 80 clas­sic Fords stolen in the last three years have ever been re­cov­ered.

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