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Advice: Protecting your business against theft in transit

Time 3 months ago

Transporting vehicles to dealerships can lead to opportunistic vehicle theft if security processes fail. In this article, we explore the issue and look at ways that drivers can reduce risk.

We have seen a general upsurge of vehicle thefts in the UK in recent years, and many of the methods used by car thieves today are high tech as digitally savvy criminals try to outsmart modern car security systems.

However, the old-fashioned, opportunistic method of stealing unattended vehicles is still very much alive.


Over the past six months or so, we have been made aware of a spate of vehicle thefts that have happened during the transportation process, or in the minutes directly after a vehicle has been delivered to a dealership.

These have included vehicles with trade plates en route to delivery, and theft of a vehicle from a parked car transporter. We have also heard of opportunist thieves waiting outside car dealerships for their moment to jump into an unattended vehicle and drive it away.

Low chance of vehicle recovery

Fewer than half of all cars stolen over the past 10 years in the UK were recovered by police.

When you think about the theft of new cars in transportation, it is perhaps even less likely that the vehicle will be found.


Even if a stolen car is traced by the police, it doesn’t always result in a favourable outcome.

One of our customers recently had to make a claim due to a high-end vehicle being stolen from a dealership forecourt that went on to be written off in a high-speed chase by the police.

Therefore, we can conclude that the most likely outcome of a vehicle theft will unfortunately be an insurance claim.

A question of process

Vehicle thefts during or directly after transportation tend to happen due to thieves taking advantage of flaws in the delivery process.

Drivers are not always keeping the vehicles secure, and it only takes a momentary lapse of concentration from a driver to give a criminal their window of opportunity.

Leaving the vehicle unsecured while paying for petrol or stopping quickly to pop into a shop can lead to theft in the blink of an eye.

A rise in claims has a direct impact on the cost of premiums, so it pays to ensure a smart and secure delivery process

The theft of new vehicles in transportation isn’t just a problem for dealerships and car manufacturers, it can also have an impact on the transportation company involved in a number of ways.

The most obvious issue is a financial one – the knock-on effect of a rise in insurance premiums after making a claim.

But it’s also worth remembering that the reputation of the company can be adversely affected, which may have a negative impact on business, and it can also harm the reputation of the driver who allowed a theft to happen on their watch.

Given the recent spike of thefts of vehicles in transit, delivery drivers need to be more security conscious. Here are some good habits to get into:

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  • Double-check the vehicle is locked: Don’t rely solely on the car’s key fob – check the vehicle is locked before you walk away. You should also ensure that all windows are closed.
  • Clip the key fob to a lanyard: One way to ensure the key fob is always with you when not in the ignition is to clip it to a lanyard around your neck.
  • Think of the vehicle as your own: A simple concept maybe, but it’s a small change of mindset that could prevent an opportunistic theft from under your nose.

Vehicle theft during transportation is largely avoidable if drivers remain vigilant and follow stringent processes from pick-up to delivery.

Daniel Little is an account executive of the automotive practice at commercial insurance broker and risk management specialist Gallagher

This article does not purport to be comprehensive or to give legal advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies contained within the document. Readers should not act upon (or refrain from acting upon) information in this document without first taking further specialist or professional advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: Spectrum Building, 7th Floor, 55 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 7AT. Registered in Scotland. Company Number: SC108909. FP1317-2020

This feature first appeared in Car Dealer issue 154. For more like it, view the latest edition below. Sign up to become a Car Dealer member free of charge to get the latest issue before anyone else.

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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