Massive increase in theft of imported second-hand cars

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There was a massive increase in the number of cars stolen last year, particularly among second-hand imported cars.

Over 4,000 vehicles were reported stolen in Ireland last year, an increase of 52% on 2021, which Gardaí say is driven by the theft of imported, second hand cars from outside the European market.

This trend, according to An Garda Síochána, may be traced to the fact that the most commonly stolen models lack security features.

For instance, many second-hand car imports do not have a fully fitted car alarm system or are without a fitted immobiliser. This makes them vulnerable to hot-wiring.

If the model has a keyless ignition it has proven possible to pick up a signal from the key fob from within the house where it is parked.

Sergeant Mark Bolger, Garda National Crime Prevention Office, said, “Car theft especially that of second-hand imported vehicles is on the rise.

“Cars imported from international markets are not automatically manufactured with the same security features as cars manufactured for the European market.”

“We urge buyers and owners of vehicles to confirm the security features of import vehicles, especially to check if there is an in-built immobiliser and to consider additional security options.”

He said that people who own, or who are going to buy a car, can take steps to try and ensure its safety.

Safety advice:

  • Buyers should check the security features of their vehicles and make decisions relating to augmenting security.
  • For cars without an immobiliser, additional steering wheel lock or chain should be considered.

General vehicle security advice:

  • Do not leave valuables on show
  • Lock doors and fully close windows
  • Fit an alarm
  • Retrofit an Immobiliser or use a physical lock
  • Install a tracker
  • Use physical security features such as a steering wheel lock and catalytic convertor lock
  • Fit theft-resistant number plate fittings
  • Park under streetlights
  • Park where there is CCTV when possible