Scotland bucks the UK trend as stolen car numbers fall

A string of successful Police Scotland operations to thwart professional gangs targeting cars for parts has seen the number of stolen motors fall.

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A surge in vehicle thefts in some parts of the UK had been linked by police to a shortage of car parts.

Thieves across the country are stripping cars “in a matter of hours” so they can sell the parts for “high prices”, according to senior officers.

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Factory shutdowns around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic have sparked a shortage of semiconductor chips and other components in countries such as the UK.

Police chiefs have deployed extra resources to help reduce the number of cars being stolen

But in Scotland, the single force’s determination to crack down on organised crime groups cashing-in on the demand for parts has led to a fall in the number of cars stolen.

Across the UK, some 88,915 thefts of a vehicle during the 12 months to March 7 were recorded by the 34 police forces that responded to Freedom of Information requests.

That suggests an average of 244 vehicles are being stolen every day – one every six minutes.

Six force areas recorded an increase in thefts but Police Scotland has seen numbers fall in successive years after deploying the force helicopter, unmarked unites, motorcycle officers and other teams to tackle the crooks.

For the twelve months to March 7 2020, 4,573 cars were reported stolen, falling to 4,079 in 2021 and 4,034 to March this year.

Officers are working with the automotive industry to predict what makes of cars will be vulnerable in the future and how to improve security.

Detective Superintendent Joyce Greenhorn, Police Scotland's Acquisitive Crime Lead, said: “We welcome this reduction in the number of vehicle thefts. However, acquisitive crime remains a priority for us and officers are continuing to carry out regular dedicated activity to target those involved in this type of crime, and provide communities with the appropriate preventative security advice to help stop their vehicles being targeted.

“As the summer holiday period approaches we would ask vehicle owners to please remember to keep your vehicle locked when unattended and remove all valuables, or store them safely out of sight. If you are going on holiday, ask someone you trust to keep an eye on your home, car, van or bike and get them to report any suspicious activity immediately.”