London mayor Sadiq Khan is demanding action from leading car manufacturers over a spike in vehicle thefts in the capital.
In a letter to car company bosses, Mr Khan is urging them to fix design flaws that make it ‘too easy’ for criminals to exploit security gaps in modern cars.
The mayor warned it was ‘now arguably easier to steal a car than a few years ago’ due to keyless technology and criminals’ use of ever-more sophisticated theft devices.
He also bemoaned how this was having a knock-on effect on car insurance premiums for Londoners, with higher costs now ‘unaffordable for many’.
Mr Khan has written to the UK bosses of Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz.
He has also urged Home Secretary James Cleverly to look at a range of fresh Government action on tackling car theft.
This includes possible new laws to boost security standards in car manufacturing, and the creation of new offences for criminals using electronic devices to steal vehicles.
Mr Khan also called for greater border checks to monitor the illegal export of stolen luxury cars from Britain, and tougher sentences for offenders.
London mayor Sadiq Khan is demanding action from leading car manufacturers over a spike in vehicle thefts in the capital
Range Rovers, produced by Jaguar Land Rover, are among the most-stolen cars in Britain – and especially London – due to their high resale value and keyless technology
The Range Rover Velar was among the top stolen cars in Britain last year
Mr Khan has also urged Home Secretary James Cleverly to look at a range of fresh Government action on tackling car theft
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed there was an 8 per cent increase in vehicle theft in the year ending September 2023, compared to the previous 12 months.
In his letter to car manufacturers, Mr Khan said this ‘concerning national trend is manifesting in London’ where there has been 7.7 per cent increase in vehicle theft over the same period.
He also pointed to Metropolitan Police figures that showed, of the approximately 33,000 cars stolen over the last year, 60 to 65 per cent were keyless car thefts.
‘It is clear we all have a role to play in tackling this problem and we know from previous examples – such as the positive work to tackle catalytic converter theft – that a collaborative approach can achieve significant success,’ the mayor wrote.
‘As you know, your customers are increasingly becoming victims of vehicle theft due to the security vulnerabilities in modern vehicles that are being exploited by criminals.’
He added: ‘Your customers are suffering twofold: firstly, they are increasingly likely to become victims of theft, and secondly, they are subject to higher insurance premium costs, which in London are becoming unaffordable for many.
‘Car insurance premiums in London have increased by 60 per cent in the last 12 months, with young Londoners being affected the most.
‘It is clear to me that this is not a matter the police can tackle alone.’
To use our interactive graphic below, hover your mouse or tap on a model of car to see how likely it is that it was stolen in 2023:
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Mr Khan praised a recent announcement from Jaguar Land Rover that it will invest £10million in boosting vehicle security, including retrofitting older models with its latest technology in a bid to reduce keyless car thefts.
Range Rovers are among the most-stolen cars in Britain – and especially London – due to their high resale value and keyless technology that criminals exploit.
This has seen Jaguar Land Rover launch its own insurance product for customers struggling to get cover amid soaring premiums.
But, despite some efforts aimed at tackling theft, Mr Khan added he was ‘not yet confident that the industry as a whole is doing enough to address the security risks faced by vehicle owners’.
He wrote: ‘I am seeking your assurance around what your companies have done – and are doing – to close the security risk to keyless cars and wider technological vulnerabilities, to design out vehicle theft for both new vehicles and older models.’
Mr Khan is urging the Government to do more to restrict the ability of criminals to purchase high-tech equipment that allows them to circumvent vehicle security
He also wants more action on preventing the illegal export of stolen vehicles from Britain and on disrupting and dismantling organised crime gangs who are often behind large scale and coordinated vehicle thefts.
Mr Khan said: ‘It beggars belief that in 2024, cars can be stolen within seconds.
‘Worryingly, changes in technology mean it’s now arguably easier to steal a car than a few years ago.
‘The Met are going after the worst offenders and targeting crime hotspots but figures show keyless car thefts account for the majority of thousands of car thefts in the capital – 65 per cent of more than 30,000 cars.
‘This is clearly a design issue. It’s simply too easy for criminals to exploit security gaps in modern cars and this has had a knock-on effect on insurance premiums for many Londoners.
‘With cars being stolen from streets and driveways in moments by organised gangs, it’s clear that this is not a matter the police can tackle alone.
‘That’s why I’m calling on the Government to take decisive action to tackle this issue and drive up improvement in vehicle security using its powers.
‘I’m also asking leading car manufacturers to help design out this growing menace so that we can build a safer city for everyone.’