Autojumble

It’s official: an EV may save you dosh, but it’s no steal

If you’ve crossed over to the spark side, congratulations! You’ve ditched combustion and now are free to pursue a motoring life unshackled from the angst of fuel queues, GBH from unanticipated mechanical bills and those ever-looming existential questions that nag anyone who doesn’t have a second home on planet B. 

But there must, surely, be unexpected ways in which being an oil-eschewer might come back and bite you on the bumper? To seek out the pitfalls of plug-ins, a quick Google of electric vehicle theft seems a logical place to start. Back in the good old days of auto crime, it was dead easy to spot the models a light-fingered felon preferred. Buffed-up Range Rover Sports, sleek bimmers, polished GTIs… plus anything with a 4×4 system that looks like it cost more than a small mortgage. If they wanted it, it went full throttle to a container.

Fast forward to today and these newfangled electric vehicles must be criminal catnip, no?

Not exactly. The latest top-ten most popular steals are, in fact, the usual suspects, with Range Rover’s Sport, Vogue and Autobiography still atop the league, according to security experts at Tracker, the trio tailgated closely by BMW’s X5, Land Rover’s seven-seat Discovery and Mercedes Benz’s C-Class. 

The main change in today’s car-pinching logistics is where the car’s headed. Given the global meltdown over semi-conductors, your E-Class, stolen overnight, may by lunchtime be more likely to end up stripped down for a parts bin than shipped off for a new life Übering around the backstreets of Nairobi. According to Tracker, hidden strip-down units are proliferating in the UK, demand being increased further by a soaring graph in the value for secondhand wheels.

Keyless entry, however, has never been more popular. So Tesla drivers can wipe that smile off their faces? After all, unless you keep your key fob in a Faraday cage, tech-savvy thieves are getting better and better at hacking your car to the extent that 94% of all stolen cars are now dispossessed in this way. 

So if your car’s an electric vehicle, we were keen to know its chances of falling prey to theft, by any means, old or new. And the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is very much the horse’s mouth on this issue. Google might be awash with tales of electric vehicle charging cables being the Next Big Thing (seeing as they contain valuable copper and other materials, their theft feeding a growing army of used EV drivers who, horrified by hyper-priced charge cables are turning to the small ads for a cheaper solution) but, that’s surely small change against the horror of walking up to your Nissan Leaf and finding that it’s missing?

So in 2022, in Britain, where are we in terms of electric vehicle theft? Which are the big winning brands, and which are the losers? The ABI has no data. In case, perhaps as a fossilist who hates EVs you struggle to weigh up the pros and cons of embracing batteries, I’ll repeat this little detail: the ABI has no data, meaning that it has no records of any electric vehicles being stolen. Does the insurance body spy EV theft on the horizon? After all, I read one obscure report on the web of the theft of two Teslas in Norway, while three Teslas recently stolen in the USA remained unlocated (out of 115 that were swiped). UK car criminals, an ABI spokesman told me, “continue to look for new targets, such as thefts of catalytic converters and keyless vehicles” but, he added, the ABI could not “speculate where any potential vehicle crime trends may next emerge”.

As you know, a canny thief steals to order and, as technology currently exists, the identity of an EV lies largely in its digital presence – a fact which possibly spells huge deterrence for thieves. What is certain is that, in the context of Google’s current obsession with listing endless links to EV charging cables getting stolen, I am hoping future links to this report, once it’s digital, change all that. Because zero reports of EV theft, while it may not spell cheaper insurance premiums, has to be a great reason, surely, to go electric? Globally, Tesla reports it has research to indicate that thieves are 90% less likely to have a go at one of its cars than the combustion car parked next to it. 

Given the UK’s big fat zero on stolen EVs though, it seems criminal apathy in the UK is, for now, at an all-time high. Enjoy it while it lasts?

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