Big rise in car thefts in France: these are the models most stolen

Some of the country’s best selling cars are among those most likely to be taken, with three regions particularly affected

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Car theft has risen by more than 11% in France over the past year, with some of the best selling vehicles on the market among those most stolen.

A total of 70,469 vehicles were reported stolen to insurance companies in 2023, an 11.1% increase compared to the year before, show the most recently released figures from the Groupement des Assureurs français.

Taking account of cars only (as opposed to other types of vehicle), the increase is even higher, at 15%. Of the type of cars stolen, 65% are SUVs.

“We had seen a rise In 2022 also but 2023 was frankly a real acceleration [in car thefts],” warned Franck Le Vallois, general director of the Groupement des Assureurs français.

And some of the most popular cars in the country are among those most likely to be stolen.

They are:

  • Renault Clio IV, 2,378 models stolen in 2023
  • Renault Mégane, 1,297 models stolen
  • Peugeot 3008 II, 1,181 stolen

Image: Grzegorz Czapski / ako photography / Maksim Ladouski / Walter Eric Sy / Shutterstock

Electronic systems make theft easier

The Toyota RAV and the Lexus NX were also among the most stolen, mainly because they have a security flaw that makes them easier to steal electronically.

The majority (70%) of thefts - for all types of cars - are now made electronically, with thieves using technology to hack the car’s computer, and create a fake ‘key’. These ‘no contact’ thefts take only a few minutes and do not require thieves to cause any physical damage, so they can drive away unnoticed.

Similarly, increased numbers of thieves are sneaking into homes - particularly in urban residential areas - to grab keys hanging on a hook next to the door, and then using them to drive a car away. This is called ‘home-jacking’ in France.

Departments with the most car thefts

Geographically, figures from GIE Argos state that the departments with the most car thefts are:

  • Bouches-du-Rhône (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)
  • Val d’Oise (Île-de-France)
  • Seine Saint-Denis (Île-de-France)
  • Haute-Corse (Corsica)
  • Corse-du-Sud (Corsica)

The departments with the fewest thefts are Corrèze, Aveyron, and Cantal.

Bouches-du-Rhône is thought to be the most targeted area because of its proximity to the Fos-sur-mer port 70km away, which enables the cars to be shipped worldwide and resold on the black market.

40% of stolen cars are found by police after the theft, of which a third are found within a week.

Preventative measures

Beyond the obvious, such as keeping your car in a locked garage, drivers are also warned to keep their front door locked, or at least to keep their keys in a less predictable place to make it more difficult for thieves.

Contactless keys can also be kept in a box lined with aluminium, which are specially designed to prevent thieves from copying the signal. These boxes can be bought online for around €10-15.

Etching a car’s windows and mirrors can also prevent theft or at least make it both easier to trace and more difficult to on-sell.

This costs around €100, and engraves a unique number on the glass. The number is then recorded in a national data file, accessible to the police and insurance companies. Some thieves may see this etching, and this could be enough to deter them, as stolen cars identified in this way are harder to resell.

Some cars also have a GPS tracker which can be activated if you suspect the car has been stolen. This can help the police trace the vehicle, and follow it if it starts moving.

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