Insurer predicts car theft spike in coming weeks as crooks target new car tech

One of Britain’s biggest insurers is warning new car buyers to be extra vigilant as it predicts a sharp rise in car thefts in April.

NFU Mutual expects to see a spike in car theft-related claims in the coming month as thieves target brand new models following the change to the ‘20’ registration mark.

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In 2019, it saw a 174 per cent increase in costs for car theft claims between March and April and is predicting a similar situation this year as “brazen” thieves target the latest models. In April alone last year its payouts hit £1 million.

The insurer says that new models are particularly vulnerable as thieves look to capitalise on brand new car parts, and take advantage of new security technologies that may not be thoroughly tested by manufacturers.

Replacement parts

With the cost of replacement parts for modern cars often incredibly high, the demand for stolen components has grown. Thieves either steal the parts to sell on the black market or to repair insurance write-offs before selling them on to unsuspecting buyers.

Steve Tucker, car insurance specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “We usually expect a spike in personal car theft claims in April with shrewd thieves choosing to wait for the latest models following the new registrations release. Brand new cars equal brand-new parts, but manufacturers also push out cars with new technology that is vulnerable to thieves and hackers.

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“Thieves are becoming more and more brazen, taking cars right from the drive, car-jacking from car parks and conducting sophisticated scams.

“It's extremely important to stay on guard and take extra precaution with security for the personal safety of you and your family as well as your vehicle. While insurance is there to pick up the cost of replacing a vehicle, the ordeal can be difficult to overcome and personal belongings taken are irreplaceable.”

The warning comes just days after security experts at Thatcham Research criticised several new models for failing to protect owners against relay attacks.

In its latest Consumer Security Ratings cars MG, Vauxhall, Mazda and Subaru were given “poor” ratings for their lack of protection against keyless car theft. Other models from Tesla and Hyundai were also criticised for lacking common anti-theft measures.

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NFU Mutual’s advice to keep your car safe:

Keep keys out of sight, leaving keys in the hallway or on the kitchen worktop means thieves can easily employ the relay technique (for certain vehicles), fish them through the letter box or worse still break inBe alert to scammers, including thieves posing as a customer looking to buy your vehicle which allows them to use fake payment methods, swap a car key or conduct a ‘relay attack’Keep your vehicle locked at all times, as soon as you get into the car and even while drivingWhen parking in public places, always find a space that's well-lit and open to public viewConsider adding a Thatcham-approved car alarm and a tracking device if your vehicle doesn’t already have oneKeep the vehicle in a lockable building or park in well-lit areas, which are overlookedTake photographs of unusual features, modifications, damage or repairs which could aid identification if your car is stolenEnsure any valuables are removed from the vehicle, including sat navs and laptops. Any type of visible bag might make you a target for thieves