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Residents in a major region in the UK have been warned of a rise in thieves stripping cars for parts as Ford Fiesta thefts rise.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and pandemic-related supply problems has led to criminals cashing in on rising demand, according to head of West Midlands Police’s Vehicle Crime Taskforce (VCT), detective superintendent Jim Munroe.

Neighborhoods in the city of Birmingham have become a target for brazen thieves stripping parts off vehicles, and people who have been parking at train stations or park and rides across the Midlands have also been attacked.

And according to data released this year, Britain’s most-owned car is also the most stolen – with Ford Fiesta thefts increasing 53 per cent in 2022 as the cost of Fiesta parts may rise due to recent announcements made by the automobile manufacturer. 

Mr Munroe said that over the last 12 to 24 months, there has been an increase in vehicle crime, particularly prevalent theft of motor vehicles.

He continued to say that he believes that this is due to a parts shortage, supply chain issues post Covid and the Ukraine war. 

Locals living at Pope Street apartment buildings, The Kettleworks and Albion House, are regularly finding their vehicles decimated

Locals living at Pope Street apartment buildings, The Kettleworks and Albion House, are regularly finding their vehicles decimated

Residents fear car crime is 'on the rise again' in Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, after routinely finding their cars shredded and broken into

Residents fear car crime is ‘on the rise again’ in Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, after routinely finding their cars shredded and broken into

An estimated £14 million worth of vehicles and parts were recovered as part of Essex's Stolen Vehicle Intelligence Unit (SVIU) in 2022. Many of the cars were 'stolen to order' and destined for overseas to be sold at inflated prices

An estimated £14 million worth of vehicles and parts were recovered as part of Essex’s Stolen Vehicle Intelligence Unit (SVIU) in 2022. Many of the cars were ‘stolen to order’ and destined for overseas to be sold at inflated prices

The Ford Fiesta was the most stolen car by volume in Britain last year. It's the most common model on the road, but data shows thefts rose year-on-year by a staggering 53%

The Ford Fiesta was the most stolen car by volume in Britain last year. It’s the most common model on the road, but data shows thefts rose year-on-year by a staggering 53%

This surge in car crime has been brought on by the growing demand for spare parts, according to Mr Munroe. 

Factory shutdowns around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic sparked a shortage of semiconductor chips and other components in countries such as the UK. 

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And the specialist Vehicle Crime Taskforce at West Midlands Police have said that they have ‘made over 100 arrests and recovered scores of stolen vehicles’ since launching in September. 

In a statement they said: ‘During January we received nine reports of cars being stripped of parts in car parks around the city centre with the majority happening in Digbeth.

‘Patrols have been stepped up in problem areas and we are working closely with partner organisations to ensure car parks are safe and secure.

‘We are reviewing CCTV regularly around Digbeth and other parts of the city centre, to gather information on suspects and cars believed to be involved in stripping cars and stealing car parts.’

A car owner struggled to recognise his own car after thieves stripped its exterior in the dead of night - left heartbroken when he discovered his Peugeot 208 had been targeted by thugs in Harborne

A car owner struggled to recognise his own car after thieves stripped its exterior in the dead of night – left heartbroken when he discovered his Peugeot 208 had been targeted by thugs in Harborne

Members of a Birmingham gang have been jailed for running one of the country's biggest car 'chop shop' rackets - after West Midlands Police linked them to more than 100 stolen vehicles valued at well over £1 million

Members of a Birmingham gang have been jailed for running one of the country’s biggest car ‘chop shop’ rackets – after West Midlands Police linked them to more than 100 stolen vehicles valued at well over £1 million

The police force continued to add: ‘Over the last couple of months, several arrests have been made including the arrest of a 20-year-old man who was arrested and charged with 11 counts of conspiracy to steal from motor vehicles.

‘We do not underestimate the impact this crime has on people’s lives and are working hard to bring these offenders to justice. We know the huge inconvenience of vehicle crime on your livelihoods, and personal lives, which is why we’re determined to take this action.

‘With the support of the public we can continue to tackle car crime and shut down chop shops which act as a market for car thieves.’

Devastated victims of vehicles such as Citroens, Toyotas, Peugeots have been left hundreds of pounds out of pocket after finding their cars destroyed and stripped bare.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) figures show that 5,979 Fiestas were reported stolen in 2022, compared to 3,909 in 2021. It means a criminal made off with one every 88 minutes on average. 

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With 1.5 million Fiesta’s registered on the road experts have warned they could be at greater risk after Ford announced last year that it will stop making them.

So, here is how you can protect your vehicle as more car parts become target for thieves 

LV General insurance has issued some great tips on the best ways motorists can keep their cars secure.

They have advised drivers not to assume that their vehicles are safe if they have left them in ‘secure’ car parks for only a few minutes or a residential road.

Here’s how to protect your car… 

  • Purchase a faraday pouch – lined with a conductive fabric mesh to stop the signal and keep well away from your vehicle.
  • Make sure your car is locked, check for obvious signs, such as lights flashing, beeping or mirrors folding in.
  • Invest in a steering wheel lock or wheel clamp as they require noisy drills or saws to cut through so may deter thieves.
  • Check your locking settings for single and double locking. Single locked means that if you smashed the window you could manually open the car by reaching in and pulling the handle from the inside. Some key fobs require a second pressing of the locking button to enable all security features.
  • Consider driveway parking posts (fold down bollards) which are a cheap but efficient way of deterring would-be thieves.
  • Install a tracker system in your vehicle, such as a Thatcham approved device, for an extra layer of security. This will help the police recover and return the car more easily

This could see the cost of Fiesta parts rise.

This comes following CCTV footage released this month showing brazen thieves using a transmitter device to unlock Ford Fiestas at train stations.

These new figures also suggest thieves are continuing to target high-value motors and family cars. 

And drivers in the region who want to avoid becoming a victim of this have now been urged to focus on where they are leaving their vehicles parked.

Although a prevalent pattern has been spotted in the West Midlands area, parts theft is rising across the UK.

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Some 88,915 thefts of a vehicle during the 12 months to March 7 2022 were recorded by the 34 police forces that provided full figures in response to Freedom of Information requests from the PA news agency.

The data published last year also showed that six police force areas recorded an increase in car thefts, compared with the same period two years earlier. 

They were South Yorkshire (up 28%), City of London (up 25%), West Midlands (up 19%), Surrey (up 12%), Merseyside (up 4%) and Greater Manchester (up 1%).

And this year, things don’t look any better as reports of cars being shredded and dismantled have grown.

The recent car crime all across Britain has led to victims paying out thousands to repair their vehicles, after finding their bonnets and headlights stripped, or windows smashed. 

A number of chop shops – locations where stolen vehicles are dismantled – have been uncovered recently and put out of use. 

This month, police discovered a vehicle chop in Retford business park, Lincolnshire. 

Three men have been charged after cops raided the park and found a number of stripped-down vans and vehicle parts that are suspected to be stolen.

Also in March, two thieves were jailed for stealing 59 Ford Fiestas worth more than £366,000 in just five months.

Kaine Guest-Scott, 22, and Theon Lynch, 21, targeted spots where commuters often left their vehicles while travelling to work. 

The brazen thieves used transmitter devices to unlock the cars – which were registered between 2012 and 2017 – without triggering the alarms.

The criminals then broke steering locks with angle grinders and reprogrammed blank keys before fleeing the various scenes.

At Birmingham Crown Court, Guest-Scott was sentenced to four years in prison, while Lynch will serve three years and one month.

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