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'Beggars belief': Sadiq Khan calls on car makers to tackle security flaws amid rising motor thefts

13 February 2024, 18:25 | Updated: 13 February 2024, 18:28

London mayor Sadiq Khan is demanding action from leading car manufacturers over a spike in vehicle thefts in the capital.
London mayor Sadiq Khan is demanding action from leading car manufacturers over a spike in vehicle thefts in the capital. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has written to car manufacturers and the Home Secretary calling for urgent action to tackle soaring car thefts in the capital.

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In a letter to leading car makers, Mr Khan said "it beggars belief that in 2024, cars can be stolen within seconds" and blamed design flaws that make modern cars vulnerable to theft.

Figures show around 65% of over 30,000 cars stolen in London in the past year were taken through "keyless theft" methods which exploit security weaknesses in keyless entry systems.

The Mayor said: "With cars being stolen from streets and driveways in moments by organised gangs, it’s clear that this is not a matter the police can tackle alone."

He called on manufacturers to "help design out this growing menace" by improving security features in new models and upgrading older cars. Mr Khan also asked them to set "higher industry standards for vehicular safety".

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The Mayor has written to the UK bosses of major car makers such as Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz.

He has also called on the Home Secretary James Cleverly to look at a range of fresh Government action on tackling car theft.

In his to the Home Secretary, Mr Khan urged the government to take "decisive action" to make manufacturers address security risks.

He suggested new laws could mandate features like automatic software updates and switches to disable Bluetooth when cars are inactive.

The Mayor also asked for restrictions on the sale of technology used in car theft and enhanced Border Force checks to detect stolen vehicles being exported.

He said: "I believe that, together, we can take substantial steps towards our shared aim of curbing vehicle theft, both locally and nationally, to enhance the safety and security of our citizens."

The letters come amid an 8% national rise in car thefts, with London seeing a 7.7% increase. Mr Khan said the thefts are having a "direct impact on Londoners" through higher insurance costs, especially for young people.

The Mayor warned insurance costs are "becoming unaffordable" for many in the capital.

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