Britain is being hit by a new wave of so-called ‘car cannibalism’. Police in Scotland say the latest incidents are the first they’ve seen north of the border, following a spate of thefts in the West Midlands.
A shortage of spare parts is being blamed for the latest rise in incidents, in which parts are stolen from cars, normally overnight. Thieves break into cars to release the bonnet catch, before removing the bonnet, front bumper, grille and headlights. The Vauxhall Corsa is a common target due to its popularity among young drivers.
‘Car cannibalism’ isn’t a new problem. The first attacks on the Corsa started in Bedfordshire in 2013, before spreading to the north of England, with some 500 reported incidents by 2016. Bedfordshire Police made 22 arrests in relation to Vauxhall parts being stolen, but the issue hasn’t gone away.
In September, thieves removed the front of a Toyota Aygo in Digbeth, while in October, another Aygo was targeted in Sutton Coldfield. LBC has found evidence of 13 incidents in Scotland, with the Vauxhall Corsa and Toyota Yaris the most common targets.
Last year, thieves stripped £10,000 worth of parts from a Toyota Yaris which had just returned from having accident damage repaired. The crime hit the headlines in 2019 when five vehicles were targeted at the Creamfields festival in Cheshire, with thieves removing the front of a Range Rover, the alloy wheels from a Volkswagen Golf R and the seats and wheels from an Audi S5.
No arrests have been made in relation to the latest incidents, although a dedicated car crime taskforce has been established in the West Midlands to crack down on vehicle-related crime.
A spokesperson for The National Police Chiefs Council told LBC: “This isn’t something we’re seeing as a significant emerging trend on a national level at this stage, but we are monitoring the situation closely”.
Most worrying is the fact that the latest incidents occurred in public places, such as railway stations or car parks, or outside the owners’ homes. A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “We’d urge car owners – regardless of its make – to be mindful of your security. Keep your vehicle locked and if you can park in a secure or well-lit location, do so.”
Fitting an aftermarket car alarm could be more cost-effective than paying the excess on an insurance claim – and it could result in a cheaper premium.