Car industry declares victory in war on thieves

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTechnology is putting the brakes on car crime

The motor industry says it is winning the war against car thieves, thanks to advances in security features.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Scott says unless criminals can get their hands on the keys, new cars are all but impossible to steal.

The number of thefts have declined dramatically but the industry admits in the future thieves may overcome some of the high-tech security barriers.

Over the last seven years car thefts have fallen by around two-thirds.

The vast majority of those thefts were of vehicles more than three years old.

Last year 107,000 cars were stolen, down from 119,000 in 2009 and massively down on the 600,000 a year which were taken 20 years ago.

Because modern car keys are coded, stealing a car without them is very difficult.

Andrew Miller, director of research at car insurance repair research centre, Thatcham, said: "We are doing everything possible to crack down on car crime. Now it is the motorist's responsibility to drive down vehicle theft figures."

'Incredible improvements'

He said the reduction in car thefts was "due to the incredible improvements to a raft of security systems including alarms, locks, immobilisers, toughened glass and tracking devices".

The motor industry says 80% of thieves use the vehicle's keys and around a fifth of home burglaries are carried out in order to steal them.

It is asking motorists to keep keys out of sight, says our correspondent.

Cars can also be stolen by being loaded onto a trailer - but high end cars with sophisticated vehicle tracking systems are generally recovered quickly.

Thieves though are beginning to design their own high tech methods, and the industry admits it needs to continuously design new security systems.

Image caption The Volvo C30 won at the British Insurance Vehicle Security Awards

Meanwhile Volkswagen has won the overall manufacturer award at the 2011 British Insurance Vehicle Security Awards.

Vauxhall UK came top in the van manufacturer field.

Individual awards were handed out to the Audi A1, the Volvo C30 and the Citroen C5 Exclusive.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Paul Everitt said: "Car and van manufacturers take vehicle security very seriously and strive to stay one step ahead of criminals."

More on this story