'Largest car key burglary operation in Britain' cracked
A gang of 11 burglars and stolen car handlers operating around Nottingham have been sentenced to 24 years imprisonment for their roles in what police say was the largest car key burglary operation in Britain.
This type of vehicle theft has been out of the news recently with the BMW on-board diagnostics (OBD) theft scare grabbing headlines, but cases like this show that stealing cars by first nicking the keys is still the most common method in Britain.
A survey by insurer LV in October found that that the owners' keys are used in two thirds of the 150,000 cars stolen each year.
Stolen keys used in majority of car thefts
Police say the gang, operating in the Kimberley and Eastwood area just north of Nottingham, were breaking into houses to steal keys to pinch cars and either using them in subsequent crimes or shipping them overseas.
Police estimate they stole around 60 cars over a 12 month period worth approximately £1 million. As you would expect, prestige brands were targeted mostly. The bulk of those taken were SUVs including Range Rovers, BMW X5s and Audi Q7s.
The cars for export were mainly being shipped to Africa, the investigation headed by East Midlands Special Operations Unit discovered. They passed on information on the stolen cars to the South African Police Vehicle Identification Service to be on the lookout when they arrived into Port Elizabeth. The operation found that the cars were taken over a 12-month period beginning in October 2010.
The same survey by LV discovered that only one in 50 cars is now being stolen in the traditional manner by hotwiring.
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