The true extent and nature of vehicle theft is being masked by hard-pressed police forces, according to loss assessor Claims Management & Adjusting.
The Kent based business is the UK’s oldest specialist motor insurance loss adjuster and has written to the National Crime Agency (NCA) requesting evidence to support its recent statements on keyless car thefts.
CMA managing director, Philip Swift, a former police detective, said, “The recent NCA threat assessment is the latest source to confirm that the UK vehicle theft rate is increasing sharply, up 19% to 110,739 cases last year.
“Unfortunately, as usual, the commentary was principally about electronic compromise, which is starting to wear a bit thin.
“It is perhaps more understandable coming from the NCA, with their remit to tackle organised crime, but security bypass is certainly a convenient line. It is hard to criticise the plummeting stolen vehicle recovery rate when the police are up against crooks with Mission Impossible-style kit.
“But, if that’s the case, then why do we see so many claims relating to 8+ year-old low- to mid-range vehicles? It doesn’t fit the profile. Some constabularies don’t even record the theft method these days, yet it goes unchallenged when they habitually cite ‘car left locked, unattended, keyless theft, unable to assist re suspects’. Where is the evidence that keyless thefts and relay attacks are so prevalent?”
He went on, “The sad fact is many officers are unlikely to challenge even the most implausible accounts. The car has gone, any suggestion of fraud will be time-consuming, could create an unwanted crime statistic, and potentially invites a complaint; best just let the insurance company deal with it?
“Of course, some criminals are using sophisticated methods to target high value vehicles, but this relentless emphasis on keyless is reminiscent of the old “keys taken using a fishing rod” story – no ‘entry’ for the police to investigate, and the vehicle owner wasn’t responsible, so straight on the phone to the insurer.”
A brilliant way to put a big dent in car crime was identified 20 years ago by the excellent Operation Igneous. Operation Igneous created a specific programme using dedicated officers and technology that targeted prolific offenders and gave crime prevention advice to owners of high-risk vehicles in particular locations and identified suspicious claims for insurance companies.
It found that up to 30% of all vehicle theft claims might be dishonest in some way, but a plan to roll it out UK-wide was shelved on cost grounds.
“We at CMA adopted much of the Igneous methodology and it continues to deliver exceptional results. It is even more frustrating then, given the worsening statistics, that some constabularies are now putting additional hurdles in the way of insurers undertaking enquiries.
“For example, by complicating access to crime reports, thereby failing to support victims by slowing the finalisation of their claims.
“We urgently need a far more joined-up industry-wide approach which makes life easier for genuine claimants and much harder for those profiting from car crime.”