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Chance of getting your stolen car back drops to less than 50 per cent

With car security systems becoming increasingly sophisticated, one might assume the process of recovering a stolen vehicle is a straightforward one. However new research suggests that once a car is stolen it's owners stand little chance of ever seeing it again.

If your pride and joy is stolen, chances are you'll never see it again.
If your pride and joy is stolen, chances are you'll never see it again.

The total number of vehicle thefts fell from 347,000 in 1991 to just 95,681 in 2011, but the proportion of recovered vehicles is on the slide. In 2002, 70 per cent of cars were recovered, with that figure dropping to 51 per cent in 2008. According to the latest numbers from RetainaGroup, that number decreased again in 2011 to a mere 41 per cent.

There are a number of reasons why fewer vehicles are being recovered, chiefly the fact there are now far fewer police officers dedicated to stolen vehicle recovery. According to the Telegraph, the number of police recovery teams has fallen from about 50 two decades ago to just four today, as the force faces budget cuts.

Other reasons, as outlined by Dr Ken German, an ex-member of the New Scotland Yard Stolen Car Squad, include a change in the behaviour of thieves. “Once, when cars were easier to steal, many thefts were by so-called joyriders,” said Dr German. “Vehicles were often stolen for parts, too, as they sometimes are now. Today the big money is in high-value cars for illegal export. Large but unknown numbers are shipped abroad to fund organised crime.”

So it's clear, then, that your stolen Mercedes or BMW is not in the hands of common thieves but is more likely being packed into a shipping crate destined for Africa, Cyprus, Dubai and the Far East, Pakista, the Middle East, Spain and Eastern Europe, where demand for stolen vehicles is high.

Don't make the mistake of thinking your high-end car's security system will keep it safe. Thieves have a number of ways of getting their hands on your pride and joy – with techniques involving everything from stealing the keys from your home to electronically programming a blank key fob to start your engine.

There is some good news to all this, particularly for those of us who own relatively cheap cars. Thieves tend to target expensive luxury vehicles rather than old bangers, so your little runabout stands a great chance of being recovered. Renault, Rover and Fiat are the most likely cars to be found after a theft, with 72.8, 72.7 and 69 per cent recover rates, respectively.

Via: The Telegraph

Image: Flickr

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