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Sadiq Khan demands action from car manufacturers as keyless vehicle thefts soar in London

Sadiq Khan has demanded action from car manufacturers following a spike in vehicle thefts in London (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
Sadiq Khan has demanded action from car manufacturers following a spike in vehicle thefts in London (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

Sadiq Khan has demanded action from car manufacturers following a spike in vehicle thefts in London.

The Mayor of London said that “security vulnerabilities” in new cars would need to be fixed to stop them from being “exploited” by criminals.

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that vehicle thefts have risen by 7.7 per cent in London in the 12 months up to September 2023 compared with the year before.

In a letter to car manufacturers, Mr Khan said that customers were “increasingly becoming victims of vehicle theft due to the security vulnerabilities in modern vehicles that are being exploited by criminals”.

He cited data from the Met Police which shows that between 60 and 65 per cent of the 33,000 cars stolen over the last year were keyless car thefts.

“Your customers are suffering twofold: firstly, they are increasingly likely to become victims of theft, and secondly, they are subject to higher insurance premium costs, which in London are becoming unaffordable for many,” he wrote.

Mr Khan said hat he was “not yet confident” that the industry had done enough to address security risks faced by vehicle owners, “particularly for those models most targeted by criminals”.

He added: “I am seeking your assurance around what your companies have done – and are doing - to close the security risk to keyless cars and wider technological vulnerabilities, to design out vehicle theft for both new vehicles and older models.

“I appreciate that making design changes can take manufacturers time and a significant amount of planning. However, I urge you to go further in the pursuit of eliminating the vulnerabilities associated with keyless vehicles and set higher industry standards for vehicular safety.”

The letter was addressed to senior car industry figures including the CEOs of Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Ford.

Mr Khan said that he would also write to the Government seeking information about steps being taken to prevent criminals from purchasing high-tech equipment used to circumvent vehicle security.

Data published last month by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) revealed that the Ford Fiesta was the UK’s most stolen car last year.

Last year, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) launched its own insurance product after customers of its vehicles struggled to get cover following a spate of keyless Range Rover thefts. It followed a report by Autocar which claimed that owners in London – a hot spot for thefts – were struggling to insure their vehicles or facing soaring premiums if they could.