Car crime is on the increase. Is your supercar a target?

Do London supercar owners need to be worried about keeping their cars safe in the capital?

London Range Rover Thefts

Supercars have always attracted interest from criminal gangs, and recent reports suggest thefts are on the increase. Should supercar owners be worried or are we witnessing a little tabloid hype?

What Car recently revealed the most stolen cars in the UK, and as you can imagine, the top targets are the most popular everyday cars. These include the Ford Focus, Fiesta and the VW Golf. High up on that list however are luxury models such as the Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover Evoque.

What about high end supercars? Has there been such a dramatic upturn in thefts as suggested by some reports?

Reports vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. There was certainly an increase in 2023 of Ferrari thefts, but this could be attributed to the recent ransomware attack on the Ferrari IT network. Ferrari have admitted the hackers have potentially exposed locations and personal customer data, but have been unclear on the technical information stolen, and if this could be used to breach any security measures. Ferrari have enjoyed healthy sales over the last few years, so the increase in any Ferrari thefts may just be down to the increased number of cars now in circulation on London streets.

How about supercars in general? Has there been an increase?

Luxury car thefts do seem to mirror a general upward trend in car thefts with the AA reporting a 24% increase in total car thefts compared to 2021. Over 130,000 incidents of stolen vehicles were recorded in the UK in 2022 compared to 104,000 in the previous year. London is regarded as the supercar capital of Europe, so it is no wonder the capital sees a number of high value thefts per year. As well as cars, spares and part shortages exacerbated by the pandemic are fueling a very active black market. Actual figures are difficult to ascertain due to the term ‘supercar’ being hard to define, but anecdotal reports do seem to suggest there is an issue with thefts of higher-end vehicles.

London Street

Has there been an increase in thefts in London?

Faraday bag for supercar keys

Many owners don't want to use storage facilities

If there is an escalation in car crime in London, what are supercar owners doing about it?

Requests for high-security storage facilities have increased and with storage space at a premium, there is certainly a boom in business for those who run such centres. The PB Supercars fleet is housed at a top of the range location at Canary Wharf in central London. From here, we arrange for our customers to collect the cars, or we can offer delivery. Supercar owners have been looking to move cars to these centres and away from their residential areas.

Storage facilities are not always the best option for some owners. Many find it inconvenient having their cars in a location other than their residence. Most have 24 hour access, but are often away from the city centre adding to any travel time. Car owners who want keep the car where they live therefore need to get ahead of the game to make sure they are doing all they can to keep their cars safe at home.

Technology is playing a big part in thefts and it is important for supercar owners to understand how this might impact their car safety. For example, tools are available on the Dark Web which allows a more sophisticated breed of criminal to take advantage of keyless technology. Keyless theft is a real issue across the entire car market, not just with supercars. Cheap gadgets designed to interrupt the electronic signal between key and car can allow criminals access to and disable trackers. This technology can now be bought for as little as £10, making it a real problem. Which magazine recently pointed out "Thieves have been using keyless theft for several years, but manufacturers continue to make new models that can be stolen in this way, meaning there is an ever-larger pool of vehicles for thieves to target”

What can you do to stop an attack using keyless technology?

Keep your keys in a Faraday Bag, or blocking pouch, plus you sometimes have the option to turn off the wireless signal. This will stop any thieves being able to amplify the signal and will prevent anyone trying to use a relay to capture that signal. It is alway best to store your keys well out of range of the car - don’t just drop them into a bowl by the front door!

Watch out for signal jammers. When you lock the car, always check it has worked by manually trying to open the door. A common way to access the car is to jam the locking signal, leaving the car unlocked. Thieves can then return at their leisure and access the car.

Consider a steering wheel lock, pedal lock, wheel clamp and car alarm and park in a way which makes it very difficult for car thieves to approach the car undetected. This could include motion detectors and high driveway gates, or at very least, driveway bollards and a smart doorbell.

If you have recently bought a second hand supercar, then ask your local dealership to help reprogramme the keys. They will charge for the service, but you will have peace of mind that your set of keys are unique.

Keep your onboard software up-to-date. Check for any software updates that the company has released to combat any security flaws.

Faraday Bag for Supercars

Faraday bags can make it nealry impossible for anyone to relay your signal

Jaguar Land Rover Security

Jaguar Land Rover are taking serious steps to prevent vcar crime

Policing London

One possible argument explaining the increase in attacks is a lack of investment in policing in London. Adrian Mardell, the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover recently called for more government intervention to tackle car crime suggesting any potential tax cuts leading up to a general election be considered against an increase in policing. He warned “serious organised criminal activity” was behind the problem and the UK has to make it more difficult for gangs to operate in the capital. In order to help, Jaguar Land Rover have stepped in to fund private security at UK ports in an attempt to slow down the gangs and render their operations unviable.

With many wealthy London property owners shipping their supercars over with them when they visit, it would make sense the police have sufficient resources to help protect what is a very important market. London certainly doesn’t want to get a reputation of being unsafe and have these owners decide to not to visit.

Jaguar Land Rover have also committed to a wider review of car security and have recognised that many car thefts are down to exploits in keyless technology. All Range Rovers made between 2018 and 2022 can receive a free security upgrade to help mitigate any security flaws. Mardell is also quick to report a relatively low proportion of its newer models have been stolen. Of 45,000 Land Rover Defenders sold since 2019, only 134 have been stolen. This does suggest some older keyless supercars are more vulnerable than newer models.

What is the future for Supercar security?

The steps taken by JLR show car manufacturers are taking security very seriously. With insurance premiums due to rise, they have a vested interest to ensure their cars attract as low a premium as possible as this is becoming a consideration when customers are deciding which models to purchase.

Supercar Biometrics

Are we going to see an increase in biometric scans for car entry?

Supercar App

Are apps and PINs the answer to keyless attacks?

New technologies are now being developed to combat potential keyless thefts, but we are a way off stopping these completely. For example, Tesla offers a Pin-to-Drive feature, which requires a personal identification number to be entered into the vehicle before it can be driven. This seems like a great idea, but Tesla have already had issues with attacks through the car’s Bluetooth, tricking the car into thinking the owner's key is close. Once open, the car just requires the correct PIN to drive, which means it is at the mercy of human error. We all know a PIN can be protected, but can also be written down or observed when entering. It is also alarming that 10% of all PIN numbers in the UK are ‘1234’ or ‘0000’ and a massive 26% of PINs are cracked with one of just 20 four digits. Face recognition, fingerprint authentication and even biometric scanning is being trialled on some models to try and introduce a level of personal security to cars. Smart technology is the answer, however it has to be smarter than the criminals, which is a tough task given the addition of the human driver.

Can we overcome keyless issues with apps? This certainly seems the way to go, assuming of course the smartphone can’t be cracked, and that the app is robust enough not to get hacked. Apps can be used to immediately notify the car owner to a potential attack, giving the owner the option to disable the car. These can also be networked to notify owners to an attack close by, becoming an early warning system.

What have we learnt?

Yes, we have seen an increase in London supercar thefts, but only in the context of an overall increase across all car makes. There has been serious progress in attempting to address this issue from the car manufacturers, both in new technologies and lobbying for more police intervention. It is however up to supercar owners to take control of their own security and ensure their car is as difficult to attack as possible.

London is a fabulous city and very welcoming for all supercar owners and despite we do hope owners continue to bring their cars to grace the capital’s streets. If not, we’re always on hand for supercar hire or short term leasing.

Luxury Car Hire in London

PB Supercars are a cost effective, reliable, and most importantly, friendly supercar hire company offering Ferrari Hire. Established in 2006, we have a track record and many customer reviews attatining to our superb customer service. We are a supercar hire company operated by supercar enthusiasts for supercar enthusiasts, and we thrive on customers referrals. Today 70% of all our hires come from either referrals or repeat hirers, something we are very proud of.

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