Since 2017, thefts of steering wheels have risen by 133%1, with demand for airbags, gear sticks and any dashboard components also doubling. The average claims cost for theft of a steering wheel and airbag is around £7,000, with the most expensive claim reaching £41,000 due to a write off of the vehicle because the entire dashboard was stolen.
Thieves are selling these items on to car garages, who are able to fit these parts at a much lower cost compared to buying them brand new. With the cost of living crisis and bills rising for many, car owners may also be more inclined to accept a 'second hand' part to help lower the costs of maintaining and running a car.
As the technology of keyless cars evolves, so are the skills and tactics of thieves out to steal them. As such, LV= GI is also seeing a peak rise in thefts of newer keyless cars such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Land Rover, up 19% from 2021. The last peak seen on this scale was a 22% increase from 2019 to 2020, with thefts much lower between 2020 and 2021 (down 6%), and before 2019.
However, it's not just higher value cars on the rise, with car brands such as Hyundai, Kia, Vauxhall, Ford, Lexus and Toyota also becoming a target for any parts thieves can get their hands on. Thefts are mainly concentrated in areas including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.
Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise for a number of years, accounting for around 10% of car insurance thefts since 2016. However, the car part which is highly desired due to the precious metal hit a record high last year, accounting for 20% of all car insurance theft claims, and has remained a substantial problem in the first half of 2022.
Alex Hammond-Chambers-Borgnis, Interim Underwriting Director at LV= General Insurance, comments "We're certainly seeing an increase in car related thefts and any spare parts opportunistic thieves can get their hands on to make some extra cash. This is also being fuelled by the fact car parts are currently in very high demand as a result of global supply chain disruption, which is adding to the problem.
"With second hand cars also sky rocketing, we're seeing all types of vehicles being stolen, and keyless cars in particular remain a problem. The technology of keyless cars continues to improve as more cars are produced, but unfortunately it doesn't take long for thieves to work out a way to steal them and advance their own tactics."