At least 300 cars are stolen in the UK every day – but only 0.6 percent of thefts lead to convictions.
According to the police, 106,291 vehicles were taken last year, an increase of 50 percent in six years, according to the National Statistics Office.
However, the Justice Department said only 666 criminals were found guilty, of which 243 were detained.
This means that 99.4 percent of car thieves escape the judiciary – and of the few who were sent to prison, most were out within nine months.
Car thieves steal a £ 39,000 Mercedes from a driveway in Dudley, West Midlands in less than a minute without a key
However, since the theft figures compiled by the AA only cover police forces in England and Wales – and do not include the Greater Manchester police force – the actual total is likely to be well over 106,291.
It's a sharp increase from 2014 when car thefts hit a low of 70,063.
Insurers paid out a record £ 413 million for stolen cars last year – compared to £ 376 million in 2018.
The crime has been fueled by an increase in keyless thefts, where crooks use high-tech devices to unlock vehicles without damaging the locks or windows.
39,000 pounds of Mercedes gone in 60 seconds
The owner of this Mercedes GLC could have been forgiven for stealing the high-tech car for £ 39,000.
But CCTV footage shows how it was captured from outside a house in less than a minute – without a key.
Bold thieves were filmed with a relay in February to steal the luxury car from a house in Dudley, West Midlands.
The video of the theft, shared online by an angry family member, showed how the trio took the vehicle around 4 a.m.
The clip shows a man with a hood and scarf pulled over his face and sneaking around the car before two more appear.
All three crouch and two make their way to the rear of the vehicle.
You hold a device in the direction of the CCTV camera – presumably a device to forward signals from the car key in the house to the car and thereby unlock it.
After that, the other two thieves seem to be able to get into the Mercedes.
Security experts say motorists should keep their car keys and tags outside their front doors if they want to avoid falling victim to the scam.
The police chief accused the automaker of "doing nothing" to stop the keyless theft, but admitted that the decline in traffic police made criminals less likely to be caught.
Many armed forces have also started treating car theft as a lower priority offense. The news comes a week after a report by Sir Tom Winsor, the chief inspector of constabulary, stating that the public may have to "tolerate" crimes such as car theft that remain unresolved unless they are willing to help the police through their community taxes to give more money.
It has also turned out that a government task force set up last year has done little to solve the problem.
Many modern cars do not need to be physically unlocked when the owner wants to open the door – the proximity of the high-tech key fob in the driver's pocket is enough to gain access.
To steal such a vehicle, a thief with a transmitter stands next to it, while another moves a small amplifier around the perimeter of the owner's house until he detects a signal from the car keychain inside.
The amplifier then forwards the signal to the transmitter, which effectively becomes the key by passing it to the vehicle's security system and tricking it into believing that the real key is nearby.
This so-called relay theft can only last 60 seconds.
Luxury vehicles are usually stolen to order and shipped abroad or disassembled in illegal chop shops on the side street before the parts are resold.
While thieves may only earn £ 1,500 per vehicle, this remains a lucrative crime, and the West Midlands Police closed around 100 chop shops last year.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “It's a shame that manufacturers allow their sophisticated high-tech vehicles to be stolen by 17-year-old children in 40 seconds.
“Some manufacturers have started to take responsibility – but for years they have been doing practically nothing against keyless theft.
“They always seem to be three phases behind the criminals because keyless entry technology is evolving so quickly.
“It has become a multi-billion pound business. The problem is that in ten years we have lost a quarter of the police and have started prioritizing other crimes. In some areas there is almost no street police. "
Jack Cousens, head of road policy at the AA, said: “If your car is stolen, it is highly unlikely that the thief will be brought to justice.
"Old tactics like" Smash and Grab "have changed as thieves adapt to changes in vehicle technology. If possible, people should park their car in a garage or in a well-lit and safe place with video surveillance. "
There are days after Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured meeting new recruits while visiting the Sussex police headquarters in Lewes on Monday) ordered the chiefs of police to prosecute more shoplifters because of concerns that the crime had been practically decriminalized
Deputy Police Officer Jenny Sims, head of the Vehicle Crime Department at the National Police Chiefs Council, said: “The increase in vehicle theft is clearly related to organized crime, and the police are using more means to fight it.
"This is not a low-level crime – it is a serious crime that afflicts the victims and we take it seriously.
"The rapid development of technology has dramatically improved drivers' experience, but it has also allowed criminals to take advantage of vulnerabilities in electronic security."
There are days after Home Secretary Priti Patel told police chiefs to persecute more shoplifters over concerns that the crime was practically decriminalized.
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