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Sadiq Khan demands urgent action on soaring car thefts in London

By Mathilda Bartholomew | February 16, 2024

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Khan highlighted the industry's sluggish response to addressing the security vulnerabilities posed by keyless cars despite widespread acknowledgment of the risks involved.

Sadiq Khan demands urgent action on soaring car thefts in London

The Mayor of London has voiced strong criticism towards the Government for its perceived lack of action in curbing car thefts across the city amidst a noticeable increase in vehicle disappearances overnight.

Expressing his concerns in a letter addressed to car manufacturers, Sadiq Khan called for more proactive measures following the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics, which indicated an eight percent surge in vehicle thefts in England and Wales over the past year. According to estimates by the Metropolitan Police Service, approximately 33,000 cars were stolen last year, with keyless entry vehicles accounting for 60 percent of these incidents.

Khan highlighted the industry's sluggish response to addressing the security vulnerabilities posed by keyless cars despite widespread acknowledgment of the risks involved. He emphasised that consumers are left bearing the brunt of security responsibilities. The escalating car crime rates have led to a record surge in insurance premiums in the capital, rising by 60 percent compared to the previous year.

The spike in thefts prompted Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to introduce its own bespoke insurance aimed at providing added protection for drivers. This insurance guarantees that any repairs are carried out exclusively by JLR-approved facilities using genuine parts. It offers flexible terms with no deposits or interest charges, and policyholders have the option to modify or cancel their coverage without incurring any fees.

In his correspondence with car manufacturers, Khan expressed

In a letter to car manufacturers, Khan stated: “It’s beggars belief that in 2024, cars can be stolen within seconds. Worryingly, changes in technology mean it’s now arguably easier to steal a car than a few years ago.

“The leadership and innovation of your companies is critical to tackling this issue, as you control the security features of new vehicles and can design out current and emerging security vulnerabilities.

“However, I have written to you previously about this issue and I am not yet confident that the industry as a whole is doing enough to address the security risks faced by vehicle owners, particularly for those models most targeted by criminals.”

Additionally, Khan urged the Home Secretary to explore legislative and regulatory measures to elevate security standards in vehicle manufacturing. Specific suggestions included addressing security loopholes in keyless entry systems and implementing mandatory protocols to deactivate vehicle Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use. Khan advocated for tougher sentencing guidelines for organised crime groups involved in large-scale vehicle theft to better reflect the severity of their offenses.

To safeguard against such incidents, the police advised drivers to ensure their vehicles are securely locked, activate alarms, and consider additional security measures such as steering locks or wheel locks wherever feasible.

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