Criminals are increasingly using WhatsApp groups and even chat functions on games platforms to organise the stealing of cars to order, drivers have been warned.

Encrypted apps can cloak criminals

Vehicle protection firm AX said encrypted social media apps allow people to draw up and share ‘shopping lists’ of particular makes and models.

They can also share photos of potentially suitable cars with their acquaintances before targeting them.

Neil Thomas from AX said a spate of car thefts is being fuelled by social media, which makes thieves extremely difficult to track, as well as by the vulnerabilities in keyless vehicles.

“The sheer volume of thefts is practically a car theft epidemic and is enabling criminals to purchase costly technology which then fuels even more car crime,” he added.

According to Home Office figures, 112,000 cars were stolen in 2017-18, a staggering increase from the 75,308 recorded in 2013-14.

Heather Stark, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, comments: “This news is likely to really anger motorists, as there is little they can do when being targeted in this way. Parking in well-lit areas and using steering locks may help deter thieves until better solutions can be found.”

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