The modern thief relies on high-tech

The modern thief relies on high-tech

A monday morning in upper franconia, the police takes stock. In tuschnitz near kronach, a green compact loader was stolen the night before. The damage is in the funfigure range. Car thieves also struck in bayreuth at the same time. They broke into a car parked in the aichig district and stole a handbag and its contents. Traps that are also commonplace in rural areas.

"The fact that car thieves are active in the region is certainly due to its favorable geographic location. Because in many cases, upper franconia is on the route to eastern europe", explains the press spokeswoman of the police prasidium of upper franconia, anne hofer. Car thefts were not only committed in big cities. "They occur in the smallest villages. Proximity to a high-speed road or freeway often plays a role. The perpetrators want to leave the scene quickly. Darkness plays into their hands even more", says hofer.

Computer as a tool

Car thieves who act on the spur of the moment and go to work with simple tools don’t really exist anymore, according to the officer. "As a rule, the vehicles in question are baldovied in advance and then stolen in a timely manner. The perpetrators are often members of organized foreign gangs that operate on the basis of a division of labor. The extensive investigations by the criminal investigation departments therefore often last for a long time."

Chief inspector rainer peterson is one of the men at the bayreuth police department who knows the tricks of the car thieves and who – also with the help of the latest technology – has been able to track down many a car burglar. "Car thieves are highly specialized these days. They use the most modern technology, know their way around very well, use computers and radio wave amplifiers", peterson tells us and gives an example. Modern cars were opened automatically at the push of a button using keyless-go technology. "Most vehicle keys are kept close to home. The thieves then only need a radio wave amplifier. They pick up the signal, unlock the car and can start it normally. And the second man just drives it away."

Car theft really boomed in 2019 and 2018, it’s a bit quieter at the moment, peterson says. This has something to do with corona. "But now the borders are open again", the police officer expects the number of offenders to rise.

Spectacular case

Probably the most spectacular case in recent years was solved by the upper franconia police in 2017 together with the czech investigating authorities. At that time, an internationally operating gang of car thieves could be arrested. "We investigated for two years, the suspects were accused of more than a hundred crimes with a total loss of more than 1.2 million euros", peterson recalls. 77 completed thefts and eight attempts were then charged, most in upper franconia.

A dismantling operation

The gang had come to the attention of the police because of repeated thefts of the VW T5, mercedes sprinter and skoda brands since the summer of 2015. In june 2016, the police in nurnberg tracked down two men from sudos europe. A 39 year old man from the pilsen area was identified as the man behind the car. He "ordered" vehicles and maintained a "dismantling business" – the wire-puller was assisted by five other men from moldova and romania.

The stolen cars were then brought to the czech republic. The thieves removed all the identifying features before selling the vehicles again or selling them abroad. The investigation file for this one case was more than 5000 pages long.

"If you have a car with keyless-go technology, you should keep your key in a container that blocks the radio signal. In some vehicles the signal can be switched off", peterson explains.

Individual parts at a glance

All thieves have one thing in common: they are always professionals and usually target very specific car parts. For example, catalytic converters were stolen in himmelkron recently, and 17 diesel particulate filters were stolen from a motor home manufacturer in marktschorgast a few years ago in one night.

Currently, thieves particularly like to visit opel dealerships in bayreuth and kulmbach. And in neuenmarkt, too, the police recently had to deal with a theft of vehicle parts. "It hasn’t been cleared up yet", peterson admits, but is confident. "Some people work without gloves, they smoke, leave traces or hurt themselves", says the chief detective.

High clearance rate

The clearance rate in the district of kulmbach is 72.7 percent, in the city of kulmbach 66.7 percent. Car thieves often target car dealers. Wolfgang isert also sells ferrari luxury cars in bayreuth, kronach and mainleus. Some of his motorized treasures cost more than 200000 euros. "All our vehicles have an immobilizer and a theft warning system. All our houses are alarmed and equipped with cameras. We have a police system, so almost nothing can happen", so isert. Moreover, the luxury cars are simply too conspicuous for the thieves.

In fact, car thieves prefer to take "08/15" vehicles, even old models. These are then cannibalized or repaired", declares rainer peterson. The theft of electric cars is not yet known to the chief criminal investigator.

However, thefts from cars and trucks are even more frequent. And the clearance rate for such crimes is only 20.5 percent in upper franconia. "Construction machinery, small excavators and tools are always welcome. A few years ago we even had a "wheelbarrow gang", peterson smiles. Do not park high-value cars on the side of the road or in unsecured carports. It is best to use a lockable garage or at least park your car on a well-lit and busy street.

A tip from the police

Watch out for suspicious persons or vehicles with foreign license plates, which "roam" slowly through the street several times and note the license plate number. Inform the police afterwards. Watch out for people taking pictures of your vehicle too. This may already be a preparatory act for a later theft. High value vehicles are often stolen on order.

When parking, always remove the ignition key and leave your steering wheel lock in place, even if you only park your car for a "very short time" shutdown.

Even during a short absence, carefully lock all windows and doors, the sunroof and the fuel tank cap.

Make sure that your vehicle acknowledges the locking of the doors with the radio remote control by a visual signal. Radio blockers can block the radio signal of your remote control, so that your car is not locked.

Have your car fitted with additional anti-theft devices if necessary. The sight signals additional work to the thief.

Vehicle tracking systems are considered an effective means of recovering stolen vehicles. In conjunction with live location, an anti-theft function is often also offered.

A simpler method is the thief steel of the original key. This is why the car key should never be left unattended.

Professional car thieves also break into houses or apartments in order to get hold of the vehicle key. Therefore, this should not immediately hang on the key board on the door.

If you own a vehicle with keyless system, never leave the key near the door of the house or apartment. If you use a radio-dense cover, the thieves cannot pick up the radio signal. When getting out of the car, watch out for people with boxes or briefcases in your immediate vicinity. These could be professional car thieves. Ask the manufacturer of your vehicle if the comfort access can be temporarily deactivated.

Do not leave anything valuable in the car, even if it is "hidden" or in the trunk.

Don’t leave your mobile navigation device in the vehicle either. Take all removable operating parts, the mount of the navi and the data CD with them. Choose a car radio or multimedia system that is sufficiently protected against theft. In any case, make a note of the individual code number of the car radio and the navigation device or mark it with an individual sign.