Irish motorists face higher car insurance costs after a sharp rise in the number of stolen cars, with organized crime gangs using sophisticated technology to ‘ghost theft’ luxury cars destined for Russia’s black market.
There has been an alarming 77 percent increase in car thefts this year.
Gardaí insisted that “a significant part of this increase is related to thefts of imported used cars and theft of electric scooters”.
A large number of thefts involved older, imported Japanese cars that lacked immobilizer security systems.
Experts are alarmed by the number of thefts that target luxury engines and use cutting-edge technology to trick sophisticated car security systems.
Several thefts of high value luxury vehicles have used unprecedented technology in Ireland – and are seen by auto industry officials as a serious challenge for manufacturers and gardaí.
There are also fears that gangs are now using “spotters” to identify luxury vehicles that match orders from black market dealers in Eastern Europe.
Gang members use Covid-19 face masks to defeat CCTV security camera systems in parking lots. Gangs work with Armagh-based criminals to process stolen cars across Northern Ireland.
Some vehicles are shipped intact to Eastern Europe, while others are dismantled in secret “chop shops” and exported for parts.
Demand for stolen luxury vehicles has surged in Russia amid fears that sanctions over Ukraine’s invasion could affect car imports and auto parts supplies.
In Dublin, a luxury Mercedes was stolen just minutes after being parked by its owner, with a specially adapted GPS tracking system disabled just minutes later. A Garda source described the theft as proof that criminals “have access to sophisticated technology and…know exactly what they’re doing.”
While a luxury car was stolen from a long-stay airport parking lot on July 22, Gardaí don’t believe parking lots are being targeted.
“An Garda Síochána has not seen a broader trend or increase in targeted theft of high-value vehicles stolen from airports or industrial areas.”
However, the number of luxury vehicle thefts has skyrocketed throughout 2021. In one case, a €150,000 SUV was stolen from an Irish car park without the thieves presumably having access to its keys.
It is feared that the thieves either used high-tech scanner equipment to ‘hijack’ the key signal when the owner locked the SUV, or used a laptop equipped with hacking technology to hack the sophisticated lock and alarm mechanisms to bypass.
A BMW was the focus of a ‘ghost theft’ in West Cork, but by a happy accident the vehicle was recovered in Louth before it could reach a ‘chop shop’.
Garda’s concerns about the involvement of criminals based in Northern Ireland have led to a close association with the PSNI.
The PSNI last month publicly warned motorists to watch out for car theft using advanced wireless technology.
Across Northern Ireland, 35 cars with wireless technology were stolen in just 11 months.
Gardaí are also investigating whether Eastern European gangs are working directly with Irish criminals as part of the contract theft.
A Lake Garda operation was hugely successful a few years ago after a gang from Eastern Europe and the Baltic States targeted marine equipment, including outboard engines, in Irish ports and marinas.
A car industry expert – who asked not to be identified – warned that the scale of thefts and the resulting claims will inevitably impact car insurance costs from 2023 onwards.
“You just can’t have this level of theft without consequences. Especially when it comes to some unrestored vehicles worth €100,000 and up,” they said.
“If you have an increase in vehicle thefts of more than 70 percent, ultimately it will affect the cost of auto insurance premiums. Auto theft doesn’t have the same cost impact as personal injury, but it does have an impact.
“Higher risk means higher premium costs – and that’s especially true for people who live in areas where most car thefts are reported.”
To make matters worse, stolen vehicle recovery rates have fallen since pre-pandemic times.
In 2018, stolen vehicle detection and recovery rates for some Garda divisions were four times higher than current recovery rates.
In the first quarter of 2022, Ireland recorded almost 1,200 reported incidents of car theft or unauthorized vehicle takeover.
That’s almost an 80 percent increase from the level for the first three months of 2021.
Statistics seen from the Irish Independent revealed that in the first quarter of this year, nearly seven out of ten vehicle thefts involved a private car. The majority of thefts occur at or near a person’s home.
Theft of e-scooters and motorcycles has also increased significantly in the past 12 months.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/how-soaring-car-thefts-threaten-to-drive-up-insurance-costs-as-gangs-use-tech-to-target-high-value-vehicles-41911676.html Car Insurance Ireland: Robberies are expected to rise as gangs use the latest technology to assist in theft