BOSTON: Vehicle thefts may be falling in the US and the UK, but the emergence of a new generation of smarter car has also seen with it the emergence of an equally smart car thief.
"The FBI reports in its 2013 Uniform Crime Report that a vehicle is stolen every 45.1 seconds in the United States, which amounts to more than US$4.1 billion in lost assets each year," said Patrick Clancy, Vice President of Law Enforcement, LoJack Corporation a company that develops anti-theft and tracking devices for vehicles.
"With only 54.8 percent of stolen vehicles being recovered, auto theft is still a serious problem and we are now dealing with a more advanced, sophisticated thief. These individuals are increasingly creative, connected and dangerous in their approaches to steal your valuable assets."
Thieves are increasingly targeting the most expensive, and therefore most connected cars on the road. And when a #34;smart' car is taken, it's not just the owner's personal mobility that is compromised.
"Although numbers show a decline in theft, the impact that today's Connected Vehicle Thief has on the individuals and businesses that fall victim to them is much greater," said Clancy.
Cars connect with our smartphones and therefore are an extension of our digital lives, meaning that as well as vehicle theft, drivers run the risk of identity theft, too. "In recent years, the traditional methods, techniques and mindset towards auto theft has evolved," continues Clancy. "Today, our vehicles hold critical information such as our phone contacts, registration and insurance details, even the address and directions to our home."
In October Jaguar Land Rover made headlines because thieves had found a way of replicating a Range Rover's smart key and simply opening the car and driving away.
There have also been a number of scare stories in the media in recent months about hacking a car and taking over its controls. However, initial investigations into smart car hacking show that although it is possible on some models, it is too time consuming, complicated and costly to be worth the effort.
However, regardless of a car's connectivity consumers can take simple steps to mitigate the risks. For instance don't leave personal documents or paperwork relating to the car in the cabin. Likewise don't leave a smartphone tablet or satnav system in the car when it's parked. And, for extra security, try to avoid on-street parking bays and plump for secure parking structures instead.
Connected cars might offer a greater appeal to car thieves, but that connectivity also means that they're more likely to be located and returned again.