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What are the most stolen car parts and how can you protect yourself – Executive Summary

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Even cars parked in well-lit areas can be targets for theft. Thieves often steal easy-to-disassemble parts and secretly sell them, take them abroad, or use them to repair other vehicles.

According to Matas Bozlis, an automotive specialist at carVertical, a car data company, thieves prefer new cars because their parts are more valuable. The truth is, thieves have no preferences – they steal catalytic converters, wheels, and even license plates. How can we protect ourselves? What are the pieces most desired by criminals?

Rear view

Rear mirrors on more sophisticated cars cost hundreds of euros, so it's no wonder they're sought after by thieves. Even in minor road accidents, it is normal for side mirrors to be damaged – that's why it's easy to find people interested in rear view mirrors on the underground market.

There are also drivers who, after breaking their mirror glass, try to save money by “borrowing the mirror” from another car. In fact, removing the rear view glass is very simple and only takes a few seconds.

Engraving your vehicle's VIN number on your mirrors can help prevent mirror theft. This way, the car will be less attractive to thieves and they will be more likely to ignore it.

Lights and headlights

Depending on the car model, the price of headlights can reach several thousand euros. The demand for these parts on the used market is high, which is why thieves are easily tempted by the deal. Stolen headlights and other parts don't necessarily end up on classified ad sites – they're often transported overseas.

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“To dismantle the headlights, thieves use special metal scissors, and they end up causing serious damage to the car's mudguards and hoods. When this happens, the owners' losses are greater,” says Bozlis.

According to experts, the headlights should also have the VIN number engraved on them. Although this is not a proven deterrent to thieves, the likelihood of your car being found without headlights is greatly reduced.

Register

License plates are often stolen to be placed on vehicles that will be used in criminal activities. Criminals use this tactic to avoid being identified by surveillance cameras and fool law enforcement.

License plates are easy to remove, so the only way to protect your car is to keep it in an enclosed parking lot or at least in a well-lit place.

Steering wheels

A used steering wheel for an economy class car can cost tens of euros, but a steering wheel for a luxury Porsche, BMW or Mercedes-Benz can cost thousands of euros. In Europe, many damaged cars are imported from the USA, so the steering wheel is a highly sought-after item.

Although steering wheel locks were widely used in the past, they are becoming rare today. The only way to prevent steering wheel theft is to leave the car in a safe place.

Interior finishes

Although interior parts are stolen less frequently than headlights or mirrors, they are also highly prized by thieves. Thieves usually target luxury car dashboards, which are then transported abroad or sold to people who repair damaged vehicles.

Wheels

A car built on cranes or bricks is an eternal classic in the world of theft. Removing the wheels can take some time, which is why thieves prefer cars parked in more secluded places.

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“The demand for wheels is very high on the used spare parts market, so it is not difficult to find buyers for them. “The most reliable way to avoid an unpleasant morning surprise is to use special safety bolts that prevent the wheel from being removed with ordinary tools,” explains Bozlis.

Catalysts

Catalytic converters are made of precious metals, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, which are highly prized by scrap dealers. When the catalytic converter is sold, the thief earns at least a few hundred euros. Toyota and Lexus owners should be especially careful, as these brands are the ones most targeted by criminals. The catalysts produced by these manufacturers contain more precious metals, which allows them to obtain higher profits. Since Toyota and Lexus make hybrid cars, their catalytic converters are usually in better condition than those in gasoline cars.

Many drivers, to protect themselves, remove the original catalytic converters and install cheaper versions.

Buzelis highlights that criminals tend to attack luxury models, so it is advisable to consider parking options when purchasing a car of this type. Otherwise, the losses resulting from the night visit by thieves could reach tens of thousands of euros.

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