Rise in vehicle thefts fuelled by parts shortage, police say as cars being stripped ‘in hours’

Factory closures and pandemic disruption fuel rising demand for components

<p>The price of some vehicle parts has soared in recent years </p>

The price of some vehicle parts has soared in recent years

A shortage of car parts is driving a rise in vehicle thefts in some parts of the UK, police have said.

Car components including semiconductor chips are in high demand after factory closures and trade disruption caused by the pandemic.

The price of vehicle parts has soared as a result, with thieves exploiting their spike in value. Once cars are stolen, they are sometimes taken to “chop shops”, where they can be stripped of their components “in a matter of hours”, according to police.

Six parts of the country saw an uptick in the number of stolen vehicles compared to two years earlier. The areas with the largest increases were South Yorkshire (up 28 per cent), the City of London (up 25 per cent) and the West Midlands (up 19 per cent).

In total, 88,915 vehicles were stolen in the 12 months to 7 March, according to the 34 police forces that responded to Freedom of Information requests from the PA news agency.

This equates to almost 250 cars being taken each day in the UK.

Jim Munro, of West Midlands Police, said the demand for certain parts was “fuelling the theft of motor vehicle crimes”.

“We’ve seen issues around microchips, but also particular vehicle parts that have been troublesome for people to get hold of,” he said.

“Some of those parts are being sold for quite high prices due to the demand.”

Mr Munro added that thieves tended to target common car brands because of the high demand for them. He urged drivers to “focus on where they’re leaving their vehicles”, saying motorists are wrong to assume that their cars will be safe in locations such as retail parks.

His force has arrested more than 2,000 people suspected of being involved in car thefts and recovered over 1,000 stolen vehicles over the past year as part of Operation Cantil.

The West Midlands Police operation has also successfully detected and closed down a number of chop shops.

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