WISE UP OR LOSE YOUR CAR
Event organisers urge caution when travelling abroad amid new fears
Continental event organisers are warning Brits thinking of taking their classics abroad about an increase in cars being targeted by thieves.
New figures from the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) show that vehicle theft rates are rocketing in continental Europe compared to the UK. France has around 111,000 thefts a year, with a recovery rate hovering around 50 per cent. In Italy 120,000 cars are reported stolen, with around 30 per cent being recovered.
175,000 vehicles are reported stolen annually in Spain, with recovery rates around 70 per cent. Germany reports around 20,000 cars stolen annually – with recovery rates not published.
The IAATI adds that thieves regularly change their tactics and employ increasingly underhanded methods to steal your pride and joy.
Communications director, Dr Ken German, says: ‘Highway piracy is a problem with all sorts of scams being reported to part you from your car and luggage. Foreign tourists are specifically being targeted.
‘Incidents of thieves representing themselves as police officers are on the increase as are distraction thefts. Thieves spiking beer and stealing classics has also been reported.’
British registered classics stolen abroad include a 1965 Porsche 911, which was taken after an event had finished in Holland last year. Thieves failed to steal several other classics from the same site.
Fred Gallagher, rally director of the Endurance Rally Association, adds: ‘Thankfully we’ve never had one of our cars go missing on an event. As part of the organisation, we arrange secure parking for the whole rally together, be this in a compound or with additional security where needed in a parking areas. Travelling as a group certainly has its advantages as we work with local ‘fixers’ and police to keep everyone safe and secure.’
Kev Haworth, media co-ordinator for HERO events, adds: ‘In 2016 we had an Alfa Romeo stolen en route to Scottish Malts. Through the power of social media we had it recovered within 72 hours.
The IAATI says that recovery rates are greatly improved through the use tracking devices, which are just on the cusp of normality among many classic owners now.
Peter Thompson, managing director of British tracking company, CanTrack Global, says: ‘Tracking in the classic industry is really growing now – we’re now protecting £7.5m worth of vehicles for Beaulieu.
‘Statistically there isn’t enough data on the classic car market at the moment though. But what we can say is that in areas like construction, where serious organised criminal gangs are in play, recovery rates of non-tracked assets are around eight per cent. Recovery rates with trackers are often closer to ninety per cent.’
Failing that, if your classic is stolen, social media is being touted as the way to go. Marcus Atkinson from classic insurance company, Hagerty, regular shares stolen cars on its social media websites. He says: ‘Today, it’s essential to get your stolen classic on social media. We had an incident at Le Mans Classic in 2016, where a customer of ours had their car stolen from Dover. It was found thanks to social media, only ten miles away.’
There are plenty of events in which you can explore Europe in your classic – but thieves often target UK-registered cars.