95% OF STOLEN CLASSICS ARE NOT RETURNED
Rising car values – and organised gangs exploiting them – are blamed for giving Britain one of Europe’s highest theft rates
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.