Telematics thwarts thieves to save £300,000

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Dedicated telematics tracking devices have led to the quick recovery of three stolen high-end vehicles and saved London-based car hire company nearly £300,000.

The stolen vehicles, “two high-value Range Rovers and top-of-the-range Marcedes” were fitted with telematics devices by telematics tech company IMS “just months earlier”.

According to IMS director Dave Turnock, City Inter Rent recovered the stolen vehicles within hours of receiving alerts from the devices.

IMS said the vehicles were found packed in containers at Ilford, Essex, ready to be shipped abroad (see video).

Turnock said that, prior to shipping, the car thieves normally park stolen vehicles in residential area for 48 hours to see if the vehicles are tracked before exporting them, usually to Africa, Middle East or Eastern Europe.

According to Turnock, the thieves had managed to disable the manufacturer’s on-board vehicle tracking services, but missed the dedicated telematics tracking devices. The vehicles had their wiring ripped out and had suffered body damage.

No arrests have been made in relation to the theft.

Increase in theft

Turnock pointed out that recent RAC research shows a 56% rise in vehicle theft over the past four years, with cars using a keyless functionality being a particular target.

He added: “Thieves are finding new technologies to override these systems and steal such vehicles, especially high value cars.

“You need to work fast once an alert is triggered. We have a very short window of opportunity to work with our repatriation partners and law enforcement agencies to recover the vehicles before they are exported and, as is often the case, broken for parts.”

In 2018-19 there were 152,541 vehicles stolen, compared with 97,609 in 2014-15, according to police data.

Turnock said that while opportunistic theft was a factor behind the increase in theft number, particularly with economic pressures in the wake of Covid-19, “organised criminals are making big money from shipping stolen cars to other parts of the world, or breaking them up for parts”.

Ian Highland, operations director of City Inter Rent, added: “Due to the nature of our business, we carry a high excess on our fleet insurance policy, and should we have suffered a total loss of the three vehicles in question, the financial outlay and resulting negative impact on the cost of future premiums would have been a real blow.”

He said: “The proceeds are often used to fund more serious forms of crime, such as drug dealing or people trafficking. We urge law enforcement to make vehicle crime more of a priority, with stiff prison sentences for criminals, and we will continue to deploy technology to keep up with the criminals.”

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