Vehicle thieves not longer steal sedans or hatchbacks but opt for the more premium SUVs. It has been noted that in the past financial year, SUV thefts have increased by 15-20 percent. A total of 10,000 SUVs were stolen last fiscal and this has caused a nightmare for insurance companies who have been shelling out large sums of money in insurance claims.
In India, out of 100 vehicles insured, claims are filed for 35-40 units. Claim payouts each year have gone up to Rs.35,000 crores with around Rs.1,000 crores related to stolen vehicles.
Among the more popular SUVs stolen are the Hyundai Creta and Venue, Maruti Suzuki Brezza, Mahindra Scorpio and Bolero. Newly launched Kia Seltos and MG Hector are also the target of thieves. Out of these it is found that it is the diesel variants that are more in demand by thieves as it offers better resale value.
The new features of keyless entry, seen in most SUVs of today are making it easy for a quick getaway. Though the vehicles are also fitted with immobilisers, thieves are also getting cleverer to crack the code and it can be noted that keyless vehicle thefts have increased by 20 percent.
Prior to the introduction of keyless entry, thieves had shown preference to models with plain keys while insurance companies had to worry about vehicles without immobilisers. Theft of vehicles is more rampant in the north of India and less in the west and south while it is the newer models of the SUVs that are found more attractive as these can be used for both private and commercial use.
With rising insurance claims, automakers are in constant alliance with insurance companies in ways to tackle car thefts. Hyundai Venue comes in with inbuilt tracking, notifications and immobilization system and geofencing so as to deter thieves with the alarm being sounded once the car crosses over a predetermined perimeter.
Dealerships also offer several anti theft devices ranging from Rs.900-5,000, while they also deter the issuance of duplicate keys and instruct owners to change all locks instead. However, as automakers get in more safety measures, the vehicle thieves get smarter to crack all codes.
With the emergence of electric vehicles, thieves also target e-rickshaws for the batteries which are the most expensive part of these EVs.