Car thefts in London are at their highest in nearly three years, with keyless entry cars targeted.
Met Police data reveals a 16% increase in car thefts across the capital in the 12 months to June 2022, compared to the previous 12 months, with 32,294 and 27,859 reported, respectively.
June 2022 recorded the highest total vehicle thefts recorded in a month, 2,743, since October 2019.
Between June 2021 and 2022, the highest number of robberies was recorded in Enfield, 1,862, five times the amount recorded in Kingston upon Thames.
It is closely followed by Newham, in which 1,761 robberies were recorded, and Barnet with 1,501.
More than 1,300 robberies were recorded in Croydon, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham.
Counties with the fewest reported burglaries in June were Kingston, 367, Richmond, 455, Islington, 553 and Sutton, 600.
AA Insurance said soaring used car prices are fueling the rise, as well as the shortage of used car parts.
This is increasing demand for the sale of stolen cars for those who don’t want to ask too many questions.
The recent increase in theft also aligns with the easing of strict Covid restrictions.
These triggers are causing a “significant increase” in keyless entry car theft, which can be carried out “quickly and quietly,” AA Insurance said.
“Usually two thieves work together. One holds a transmitter and stands next to the car while the other stands near the property holding an amplifier.
“The amplifier can boost the signal from the switch and send it to the transmitter. The transmitter essentially becomes a phantom key and tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby. This opens up the car and allows it to be driven without causing any damage.”
Car manufacturers that offer keyless entry include Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes and Ford, but it is also becoming more frequent in mid-size vehicles.
Owners, however, are less aware of the risks.
A survey of drivers by AA Yonder found that 51% of keyless entry vehicle owners don’t store their key in anything.
There are a number of ways homeowners can protect their keys from ‘relay theft’, including wrapping them in aluminum foil or storing them in a leather bag.
“The key has always been the most vulnerable part of the car when it comes to security, but many don’t know how important it is to protect it,” said AA Insurance Services managing director Gus Park.
“Drivers should do everything possible to protect their keys. While a minority store their keys in the microwave, this is not recommended and there are simpler ways to protect your vehicle.
“For just ten cents, people can reduce the risk of theft by keeping their keys in a faraday bag. Depending on the spare key, drivers may need two as it could also be a keyless entry key. They should also be stored well away from the front door and kept out of sight.”
The Met Police said it could not comment on the statistics but said it recognizes the impact car crime can have on victims.
“Any crime allegation reported to the police will be evaluated to see if there are viable lines of investigation, including forensic opportunities that could progress.
“However, there are a number of measures drivers can take to secure their vehicles and their contents, such as installing a steering lock that can act as a visible deterrent and removing valuables or ensuring they are not exposed.
“We are deploying 650 new officers on new downtown teams, working downtown and on the streets to reduce crime and build trust in communities through greater police visibility.”
Car thefts recorded between June 2021-22
Barking & Dagenham 1,322
Tower Villages 1,246
Waltham Forest 1,151
Hammersmith & Fulham 694
Kensington and Chelsea 659