Drivers warned of new car theft craze as thugs use trackers to steal vehicles

Drivers are being warned of a new car theft threat where criminals are stealing vehicles by tracking their location.

Thieves are now using Apple AirTags and other devices to track, monitor and steal cars.

New data shows how gangs are using the tech to prove that cars "stolen to order" are in the thieves' possession.

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Once a stolen Range Rover was retrieved by the police and motor insurer NFU Mutual which had an AirTag hidden in it.

It was found before being shipped to Africa with cops claiming the AirTag was a "proof of postage" by the thieves.

The AirTag was hidden in the roof lining of the Range Rover and stopped by the police at a Belgian port.

AirTags and other trackers are designed to be attached to luggage or wallets to help people find lost items.

They connect with anyone's phone within 20 metres of the device, allowing thugs to monitor the location of the car.

A car insurance specialist at NFU Mutual said they provide a way for thugs to track vehicles back to the owners' home.

Andrew Chalk said: "Thieves can then return at night to break in and steal the keys from the home or use electronic scanners to gain entry to the cars and drive them away.

"Thankfully, we don't believe this practice is currently widespread, but worrying reports suggest this is a tactic thieves will use to prey upon those with desirable vehicles.

"We're urging all motorists to make themselves aware of this tactic to make sure their vehicle doesn't become an item on a thief's shopping list."

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He claimed drivers in the South East of England and the Midlands should be cautious due to the higher levels of theft of luxury vehicles.

Apps like Tracker Detect or Samsung's SmartThings can scan for unknown devices to give motorists a piece of mind.

DC Chris Piggott, of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, claimed criminals were becoming more sophisticated with their methods, naming AirTags, Smart Tags and Tile devices as the most frequently used.

He added: "With some gangs able to access keyless vehicles with specialist equipment, we're concerned that motorists could be leading clued up criminals to their valuable possessions.

"The tagging devices being used each contain features which allow people to detect and disable them, so it's worth motorists familiarising themselves with these as well as checking their home security measures."

Drivers should check their cars if they think they may be at risk, with the most common places for hidden tags being in the roof lining, fuel tank flaps and storage compartments.

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