Birmingham & Black Country

Keyless cars blamed for West Midlands theft 'epidemic'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionKeyless cars blamed for West Midlands theft 'epidemic'

The number of cars stolen in the West Midlands has tripled since 2015, according to figures published by a police and crime commissioner (PCC).

In 2018, 7,452 cars were stolen in the West Midlands Police force area compared to 2,521 in 2015.

West Midlands PCC David Jamieson blamed keyless technology, saying there was an "epidemic" of thefts.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it takes vehicle crime "extremely seriously".

The figures released by the PCC cover all types of vehicle theft - not just those relating to keyless entry - in the police region, which covers Birmingham, the Black Country and Coventry.

They do not include robbery and burglary, which would cover car-jackings and breaking into property to steal keys.

Mr Jamieson said manufacturers had a responsibility to "make cars safer".

"They're selling a car, 30, 40, 50 thousand pounds. That car shouldn't be able to be stolen by a teenager with something he bought on the internet for £70," he said.

Image caption Shakeeb Iqbal's car was stolen from outside his friend's house on Thursday

Shakeeb Iqbal's Audi was stolen in Birmingham on Thursday evening as he visited a friend.

"They smashed a window and re-programmed the car within seconds," he said.

Police were able to track it down that night as Mr Iqbal had left a phone in the car which could be traced.

"I'm thankful I got my car back," he said, but added that manufacturers "need to update their security".

The SMMT argued keyless technology actually made theft more difficult, but said the increase was "disturbing".

"[The] industry takes vehicle crime extremely seriously and is investing billions in ever more sophisticated security features," chief executive Mike Hawes said.

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites