The threat of keyless car theft in the U.K. is increasing, vehicle-recovery company Tracker says.
Tracker data shows 88% of stolen vehicles fitted with one of its devices and successfully recovered last year were stolen without using the owner’s keys. That’s up from 80% stolen that way in 2017 and 66% in 2016.
The BMW X5 moved up a spot to top the list of most-stolen and -recovered vehicles.
Tracker says the X5 has claimed the top spot eight times over the past nine years.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, No.1 in 2017, swapped places with the X5 last year.
Prestige brands dominate Tracker’s 2018 list, with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover and Range Rover models occupying all 10 places. Mercedes-Benz took a record four of the top 10 spots.
While the VW Golf claimed second place as the U.K.’s best-selling car in 2018, it didn’t appear on Tracker’s list. Despite its popularity, it has appeared in the Tracker table only three times since 2009, first appearing in 2010.
The average value of stolen and recovered cars in 2018 was £20,000 ($25,851). The least expensive recovery was a Toyota Land Cruiser worth just £1,000 ($1,292). The most expensive was a Rolls Royce Ghost worth £120,000 ($155,108).
Clive Wain, head of police liaison at Tracker, says organized criminal gangs make a living out of stealing-to-order, or taking what they know will sell quickly.
“These people have highly sophisticated skills, continually adapting their techniques to counter technology introduced by manufacturers to safeguard vehicles,” Wain says in a statement.
Tracker’s stolen-vehicle recovery systems use a transmitter hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle.