We have seen a general upsurge of vehicle thefts in the UK in recent years, and many of the methods used by car thieves today are high-tech as digitally-savvy criminals try to outsmart modern car security systems. However, the old-fashioned, opportunistic method of stealing unattended vehicles is still very much alive.
Over the last six months or so, we have been made aware of a spate of vehicle thefts that have happened during the transportation process, or in the minutes directly after a vehicle has been delivered to a dealership. These have included vehicles with trade plates en route to delivery, and theft of a vehicle from a parked car transporter. We have also heard of opportunist thieves waiting outside car dealerships for their moment to jump into an unattended vehicle and drive it away.
Low chance of vehicle recovery
Fewer than half of all cars stolen over the last ten years in the UK were recovered by police . When you think about the theft of brand new cars in transportation, it is perhaps even less likely that the vehicle will be found. Even if a stolen car is traced by the police, it doesn’t always result in a favourable outcome. One of our customers recently had to make a claim due to a high-end vehicle being stolen from a dealership forecourt which went on to be written off in a high-speed chase by the police. Therefore, we can conclude that the most likely outcome of a vehicle theft will unfortunately be an insurance claim.
A question of process
Vehicle thefts during or directly after transportation tend to happen due to thieves taking advantage of flaws in the delivery process. Drivers are not always keeping the vehicles secure, and it only takes a momentary lapse of concentration from a driver to give a criminal their window of opportunity. Leaving the vehicle unsecured while paying for petrol, or to stop quickly to pop into a shop, can lead to theft in the blink of an eye.
A rise in claims has a direct impact on the cost of premiums so it pays to ensure a smart and secure delivery process.
The theft of new vehicles in transportation isn’t just a problem for dealership and car manufacturers, it can have an impact on the transportation company involved, in a number of ways.
The most obvious issue is a financial one – the knock-on effect of a rise in insurance premiums after making a claim. But it’s also worth remembering that the reputation of the company can be adversely affected which may have a negative impact on business, and it can also harm the reputation of the driver who allowed a theft to happen on their watch.
Given the recent spike of thefts of vehicles in transit, delivery drivers need to be more security conscious. Here are some good habits to get into:
- Double check the vehicle is locked: Don’t rely solely on the car’s key fob – check the vehicle is locked before you walk away. Some thieves use remote control ‘jammers’ to intercept and block the radio frequency for the ‘lock’ command from the fob to the car, leaving the vehicle unlocked. Therefore it’s important to lock the vehicle as soon as you’ve stepped out and closed the doors, then double check the vehicle is secured. You should also ensure all windows are closed before leaving the vehicle.
- Clip the key fob to a lanyard: One way to ensure the key fob is always with you when not in the ignition is to clip it to a lanyard around your neck. Get into the habit of doing this so that feeling the physical presence of the keys when you walk away from the vehicle becomes second nature.
- Think of the vehicle as your own: A simple concept maybe, but each time you have to leave a vehicle unattended, even for a moment, consider if you would do this if the vehicle was yours, or if it contained something or someone extremely valuable to you. It’s a small change of mindset that could prevent an opportunistic theft from under your nose.
Vehicle theft during transportation is largely avoidable if drivers remain vigilant and follow stringent processes from pick-up to delivery.
As always, we are happy to discuss your insurance requirements with you and remain committed to providing you with adequate cover for your business.