THE BMW X5 is one of the most popular posh SUVs in the UK, thanks to its stylish design, gadget-packed interior, advanced diesel engines and solid road-holding. Unfortunately, the car’s impressive reputation is attracting not only buyers but also car thieves.
Tracker, a maker of car security devices, has said that the X5 was the most stolen and recovered car in 2014 for the sixth year running, of any model its vehicle tracking systems are fitted to.
And the X5 is not the only premium SUV being targeted by car thieves. As reported by Driving, Land Rovers are as highly desired by crooks as they are by drivers.
The Range Rover Sport is the third most stolen and recovered car on Tracker’s books (rising from seventh place in 2013), and in fifth and seventh place respectively are the Discovery and the Range Rover. The Mercedes-Benz ML is a new entry in ninth place.
Tracker’s 10 most stolen and recovered cars
|1 BMW X5
2 BMW M3
3 Mercedes C-class
4 Audi S4
5 BMW M5
6 BMW 3-series
7 Range Rover Sport
8= Range Rover Vogue, Audi S3
10= Mercedes E-class, BMW 5-series, Porsche 911
|1 BMW X5
2 Mercedes C-class
3 Range Rover Sport
4 Mercedes E-class
5 Land Rover Discovery
6 BMW M3
7 Range Rover Vogue
8 Audi RS 4
9 Mercedes ML
10 Mercedes C 63
The popularity of SUVs with criminals is a worrying trend for drivers. Andrew Barrs, head of police liaison at Tracker, said 43% of the cars in Tracker’s top 10 were stolen without the use of a key.
“We believe this is down to the growth in car hacking,” he told Driving, “where criminals target keyless vehicles by bypassing their security systems, using technology they’ve bought on the internet.”
In Kensington and Chelsea, London’s wealthiest area, police have taken drastic action to address the rise in the number of luxury cars stolen by car hackers, currently 10 a night: drivers spotted on the road after midnight are being stopped and questioned by police.
“Many keyless thefts begin by the car thief identifying the car and either following the owner home or placing a cheap GPS tracking unit on the car to turn up at the owners home when it suits – usually when they lock it up for the night,” says Barrs.
Devices to deter car thieves
With thieves bypassing cars’ sophisticated electronic security systems, drivers can take practical steps to prevent their car from being stolen – in the form of extremely unsophisticated aftermarket locking devices.
Thatcham Research assesses vehicle security systems for the insurance industry. It recommends three aftermarket mechanical immobilisers, which act as both a visual and physical deterrent and may save a car from becoming the wrong kind of statistic:
- The steel Disklok fits to a car’s steering wheel, encasing it completely so it’s difficult for thieves to lever off, and spins on the steering wheel, helping to stop thieves damaging the car’s steering lock mechanism. It costs from £99.99.
- The Stoplock Pro is another device that fits to a car’s steering wheel. It’s not as robust as the Disklok and can’t prevent thieves attacking the steering wheel itself, but is still a deterrent for thieves and costs £49.99.
- The PedalBox takes a different approach, shielding a car’s pedals in a steel box with a lockable lid so it can’t be driven until the guard is removed. It’s aimed at van drivers but its downside is that it is out of sight and may not be as effective a visual deterrent as the Disklok or Stoplock Pro. It costs £131.25 for a version that fits the latest Range Rover, among others.