Revealed: the least troublesome new cars you can buy today
New BMWs at risk of theft
Steve Wood loved his pride and joy, a brand new BMW 1M worth £43,000. In fact, he kept the key in his bedroom every night and hid the spare.
But that didn't stop four brazen thieves stealing his car from his driveway in only three minutes.
Steve had CCTV cameras pointed on his BMW and they recorded the thieves smashing the BMW's window and accessing the car's 'OBD port' in the footwell to reprogramme a spare key. A void on the alarm meant the thieves could smash the glass and put their arm into the car without it going off.
It was then simply a case of pushing the car silently out of the driveway and making off in it, never to be seen again.
Steve said: "The police seemed used to it, almost 'oh another BMW theft'. They were good at keeping me informed but they haven't got anywhere apparently. I spoke to another police officer a few weeks ago and he said they're still being stolen at the same rate.
"The insurance company was really good and paid out within six weeks. No questions asked."
BMW UK said: "We are aware of recent claims that criminal gangs are targeting premium vehicles from a variety of manufacturers. This is an area under investigation.
"The battle against increasingly sophisticated thieves is a constant challenge for all car makers. Desirable, premium-branded cars, like BMW and its competitors, have always been targeted. BMW has been at the forefront of vehicle security for many years and is constantly pushing the boundaries of the latest defence systems. We work closely with the authorities and with other manufacturers to achieve this. We have a constant dialogue with police forces to understand any patterns which may emerge. This data is used to enhance our defence systems accordingly. Currently BMW Group products meet or exceed all global legislative criteria concerning vehicle security."
Steve's case isn't isolated. Internet forums are awash with similar tales of BMWs and other prestige cars (particularly new ones) being stolen in this manner.
Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Garry Forsyth, said: "Overall vehicle crime in the West Midlands is down by a considerable amount.
"While we will not reveal specific details on how criminals are stealing cars, in the vast majority of cases criminals are gaining access to vehicles by smashing a side window.
"A number of tactics - including the use of capture cars - continue to be used by officers to drive vehicle crime down even further."
The force would not comment on specifics such as numbers and makes of cars stolen, but some newspapers have suggested figures in excess of 300 in the West Midlands area alone.
So will Steve buy another BMW? "As much as I would love another 1M I would never buy another BMW. Their inability to inform me of this issue has tarnished my opinion of them," said Steve.
"They knew about it when I bought the car. Even a quiet word in my ear recommending a tracker or moving the OBD port would have been appreciated; I would have taken that advice. If I bought another BMW I have been advised to get an aftermarket alarm and have two trackers fitted! I think that's a bit too far to go for a car."
BMW was keen to point out that its cars aren't the only ones affected by these crimes. The best precaution, whatever your car, is to buy and use a steering wheel lock, fit a tracker device and invest in an aftermarket alarm.
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