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Car thieves switch to more prestigious and newer cars


The economic growth in Latvia and adjacent neighbouring countries has changes the demand for stolen cars. The interest in older medium price range vehicles has decreased last year, and criminals have switched to more prestigious motor vehicles, such as BMWs of series 5 and 3, according to data of BTA Baltic Insurance Company AAS (hereinafter - BTA). The number of other relatively expensive and brand new cars hijacked has also gone up.


Last year, the number of stolen series 5 BMWs has doubled, while the number of thefts of series 3 BMWs has grown by 150%. Meanwhile the interest in recent leaders Golf, and Audi 80, has reduced. Another evidence to the changes in car thieves’ choices for more expensive cars is a fact that the demand for Subaru Legacy has quadrupled, stolen Audis A5 – tripled, and the number of hijacked BMW X5, X6 and series 7 cars nearly doubled. Lexus RX has also come to the attention of thieves.


Worthwhile to note, the number of new cars stolen has also considerably increased last year, and joined the danger zone of cars have such previously unattractive brands to criminals as Hyundai, Subaru and Nissan. The incidence of cases of less than a year old cars getting hijacked has increased by 69%, year old ones – by 78%, two-year olds – by 68% and three-year olds – by 73%. Meanwhile there has been a decrease by an average of 15% in the 7 to 9 year old vehicles. The new cars are made into an easy victim by the KeyLess system without an additional protection. By increasing the signal strength from the key resting in the owner’s pocket or at home, criminals have learned to open such cars and start up within a couple of seconds.


Latvian car thieves were extremely conservative until the last year, an indication to the slowly changing demand in the used cars and spare parts market. The top of the list for a long time was occupied by brands having most numerous registrations in Latvia. According to the statistics of the Road Traffic Safety Directorate, 127436 VWs were registered in Latvia as at 1 January 2018, 93780 Audis, 56220 Volvos, 54475 Opels, 51487 BMWs and 40823 Toyotas.


It correlates the data of cars stolen in Latvia. For four successive years, an uncontested leader was VW Golf. It was followed by Audi A4, although the scale of its thefts have shrunk in a couple of last years. Although, amazingly, but a place in the top three retains another representative of “four rings” – Audi 80, the production of which has been discontinued long ago, it was favoured by thieves more than series 5 BMW, Golf’s “eldest brother” Passat and series 3 BMW.


Within last five years, the menu of models to the criminals’ tastes have sporadically entered also such vehicles as Toyota RAV4, Toyota Land Cruiser, VW Touran, Toyota Corolla Verso, Audi A6, BMW X5.


“Although the range of cars preferred by criminals was long been stable, from time to time they develop a specific interest in a less popular model, or objects of their interest considerably change, as it is now, for instance. Therefore, car owners should not rely just on the fact that their car is not in the risk group at the moment of purchase, rather they should take care of safety – by installing additional anti-theft systems and get insurance, by all means. It can spare a lot of unpleasant moments,” suggests BTA Insurance Claims Handling Department Director Kārlis Liepiņš.


To recover a stolen car is hard, nearly impossible, as many of them get disassembled into parts or taken to neighbouring countries, then resold for a higher price, for instance, to new owners in Central Asia.


About BTA

BTA Baltic Insurance Company is one of the leading insurance companies in the Baltics, offering the broadest range of non-life insurance services in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. BTA employs more than 1 000 employees in the Baltics. The largest shareholder of BTA is Vienna Insurance Group AG with 200 years of experience in the insurance industry. More than 50 companies in 25 countries constitute the group, which employs 25,000 employees. Vienna Insurance Group AG is a clear leader in its core markets in Europe maintaining high rating of financial stability – Standard & Poor’s A+ (stable outlook), with a listing on the Vienna and the Prague Stock Exchange.



More information:
Elīna Rasmane
Marketing and Public Relations Department Director
BTA Baltic Insurance Company AAS
email: elina.rasmane@bta.lv