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Gardaí issue fresh warning over theft of second-hand cars

Gardaí have issued a fresh warning over the theft of second-hand cars imported from outside of the EU.

It follows the arrest of three male youths in Wicklow over the theft of a number of vehicles near Rathnew in the early hours of last Saturday morning, 6th May.

The three youths were detained at a Garda station in Wicklow, and have since been released pending a referral to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme.

Gardaí said that the vehicles involved in this incident were imported from outside the European market, and have reminded the public of the security vulnerabilities associated with such vehicles.

When contacted to clarify typically what countries of origin and what car makes are the ones being stolen the most, the Garda press office said it is not information it could release.

Statistics released from An Garda Síochána on February 17th this year showed a growth in car theft / unauthorised taking of a vehicle offences.

It said that with over 4,000 vehicles reported stolen in 2022, theft of vehicles continue to show a significant increase – up 52 per cent on 2021 and 17 per cent on 2019.

Gardaí cited a lack of security features in second-hand cars imported from outside of the EU as the main cause for this increase.

An Garda Síochána has today reiterated this warning, saying many second-hand car imports do not have a fully fitted car alarm system or are without a fitted immobiliser, making them vulnerable to hot-wiring.

If the model has a keyless ignition it has proven possible to pick up a signal from the key fob from within the house where it is parked.

Gardaí says that buyers should check the security features of their vehicles and make decisions relating to augmenting security. For cars without an immobiliser, additional steering wheel lock or chain should be considered.

Speaking in February, Sergeant Mark Bolger of the Garda National Crime Prevention Office, said: “Car theft especially that of second-hand imported vehicles is on the rise.

“Car buyers and owners can take actions to decrease the risk of the theft of their vehicle.

“Cars imported from international markets are not automatically manufactured with the same security features as cars manufactured for the European market.”

He added: “We urge buyers and owners of vehicles to confirm the security features of import vehicles, especially to check if there is an in-built immobiliser and to consider additional security options.”