The number of vehicles stolen in England and Wales has risen by 30 per cent in three years, according to data revealed by a Freedom of Information request.
A total of 65,783 vehicles were reported stolen to 40 police forces in England and Wales in 2013, but by 2016 this had spiked to 85,688.
The figures, gathered by the RAC after it made Freedom of Information requests to 40 police forces across England and Wales. Car thefts had been decreasing since 2002. The growth of computer-based security has been blamed for the reversal.
Organised crime gangs have been stealing many prestigious vehicles to order, before shipping them overseas.
As a result motorists are increasingly resorting to traditional security devices such as mechanical steering locks fit over the wheel and were popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
The RAC says thieves are getting better at beating modern security systems by using new technology and that the rise in robberies reverses a downward trend.
However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that the new cars “have never been more secure”.
Mark Godfrey, RAC insurance directors, said: “Unfortunately, these figures show very unwelcome rise in the theft of vehicles from much lower numbers in 2013.
“Technology advances in immobilisers, keys and car alarms had caused the number of vehicle thefts to decrease significantly from more than 300,000 in 2002, but sadly they have now increased after bottoming out in 2013 and 2014”.
“We fear thieves are now becoming more and more well equipped with technology capable of defeating car manufacturers’ anti-theft systems. This is bad news for motorists as it has the effect of causing insurance premiums to rise at a time when they are already being pushed up by a variety of factors, not least the recent change to the discount rate for life-changing personal injury compensation claims and the rises in insurance premium tax.”
The RAC said it had also seen an increase in the use of traditional anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks, which act as a clear visible deterrent to potential thieves.