Gardaí warn of big rise in theft of second-hand cars in Ireland

Gardaí are warning of a big rise in car theft in recent times with second-hand imported cars particularly targeted by criminals.

Second-hand cars that have been imported from outside the EU are particularly vulnerable to theft due to a lack of security features, Dublin Live reported.

According to latest garda figures, there were over 4,000 vehicles reported stolen in 2022, a 52% increase from 2021 and a 17% increase from 2019.

A garda spokesman said the increase “is driven by the theft of second-hand imported cars from outside the European market, which may be due to the lack of security features in the most commonly stolen imported vehicles. For instance, many second-hand car imports do not have a fully fitted car alarm system or are without a fitted immobiliser.

“This makes them vulnerable to hot-wiring. If the model has a keyless ignition it has proven possible to pick up a signal from the key fob from within the house where it is parked.”

Sergeant Mark Bolger, of the Garda National Crime Prevention Office, said: “Car theft especially that of second-hand imported vehicles is on the rise. Car buyers and owners can take actions to decrease the risk of the theft of their vehicle.

“Cars imported from international markets are not automatically manufactured with the same security features as cars manufactured for the European market. We urge buyers and owners of vehicles to confirm the security features of import vehicles, especially to check if there is an in-built immobiliser and to consider additional security options.”

  • Buyers should check the security features of their vehicles and make decisions relating to augmenting security
  • For cars without an immobiliser, additional steering wheel lock or chain should be considered

General vehicle security advice from the gardai includes:

  • Do not leave valuables on show
  • Lock doors and fully close windows
  • Fit an alarm
  • Retrofit an Immobiliser or use a physical lock
  • Install a tracker
  • Use physical security features such as a steering wheel lock and catalytic convertor lock
  • Fit theft-resistant number plate fittings
  • Park under streetlights
  • Park where there is CCTV when possible
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