The number of car thefts in France increased by nearly 50% in July and August this year compared with previous months, claims a firm that specialises in locating stolen vehicles.
Figures from the Interior Ministry confirm an increase - although not as high.
Data from Coyote Secure shows that 50% more cars were stolen this summer than last summer, with SUVs representing most (65%) cases. The theft of hybrid cars, prized by thieves for their valuable catalytic converters, also tripled.
A significant proportion of this increase is in keyless thefts, in which thieves use electronic devices to clone key fobs.
"In the last four years, our teams have never had so much work to do in the space of one month,” said the company in its report.
The areas that saw the biggest increases were Île-de-France (+30%), Auvergne-Rhône Alpes (+73%) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (+44%). Figures from the Interior Ministry also show that these regions saw the biggest increases in theft last year, albeit with much smaller numbers, at 4%, 2.9% and 4.2%, respectively.
The top five most frequently stolen cars in 2022, according to the Franco-German car magazine Auto Plus, were also predominantly hybrids:
- Toyota Rav4 “5”
- Lexus NX
- Audi A3 “3”
- Lexus UX
- Renault Megane 4
How does keyless theft work?
The thieves often work in pairs.
Once they have found a car that has keyless locking, one of them will try to get as close as possible to the key, even approaching your house, carrying a scanning device to detect the signal from the car’s key fob, which is a unique, encrypted code.
Once the key fob’s code has been detected, it is transmitted to the thief’s partner who has a receiver that amplifies the signal so it can be detected by the car.
This signal tricks the car into thinking that the owner is nearby, unlocking it. Many cars that use such devices also start via a button rather than an ignition key, which means that the thieves can simply drive away.
The advantage for thieves is that this method is fast and inconspicuous, and provides them with a modern car that can easily be sold abroad or broken up for valuable parts.
The best way to prevent your car from being targeted is by fitting a steering wheel lock, which will scupper thieves’ plans for a fast and discreet getaway once the car is open.
Do Coyote Secure figures stand up to scrutiny?
The official figures from the Interior Ministry do show an increase in car theft, but this is far from the increase that the car firm claims.
The ministry’s data shows that there were 24,753 cases of car theft between July and August, an increase of 7.15% on the same period in 2022.
So far in 2023, the number of thefts has increased by 3.22%, which represents an improvement on last year: 2022 saw a 9% increase on 2021, with a total of 133,800 cars reported stolen.
Coyote secure told BFMTV.com that the data they used to compile these statistics comes from cars fitted with their own tracking devices, rather than police reports or government statistics.