Event or­gan­is­ers urge cau­tion when trav­el­ling abroad amid new fears

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Mur­ray Scul­lion

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.

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