Security Warning: Surge in Car Headlight Thefts

car headlight thefts


The Farsight remote CCTV monitoring team have seen a stark increase in attempted car part thefts from vehicles parked on dealership forecourts recently – especially car headlights. Scanning the news media, this is not an issue that is isolated to car dealership forecourts, however.

It has been widely reported that car thefts has surged and Farsight recently published an article entitled “A vehicle is stolen every nine minutes in the UK” This article looked at not only vehicle thefts, which have increased 21% in the past three years, but also at the thriving black market in stolen car parts which is running at an industrial scale in the UK.

You don’t have to search news media channels too hard to find a stream of reports of stolen vehicles from all across the UK during recent months. In addition, speculation across the news and industry channels predicting a surge in car part thefts as a result of pandemic containment measures, appears to have become a stark reality.

Reselling whole cars is a risky business, even for criminals and it is not just the thefts of whole cars that affect car showrooms. It seems that car parts have become new treasure as manufacturing production lines have been affected coronavirus outbreak.

Opportunistic criminals are targeting vehicles to fill the replacement parts gap, caused by the shutting down of manufacturer supply chains. In terms car parts targeted by thieves, catalytic converters have dominated the news with a 600% increase in claims involving catalytic converters reported by leading insurers. However, it seems that car headlight thefts are in the spotlight again…

Why is there a surge ‘Car Headlight Thefts’?

car headlight thefts


Car headlights were once comparatively simple affairs – a bulb, a reflective bowl and a glass front, AutoExpress explains. Their Car Headlights Explained article outlines the different types of modern headlights in cars today.  These range from the new laser headlights that are  found on a few new cars from the upper end of the market (costing over £5,000 if opted for on the BMW i8), to LED and xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights.

In an article entitled How much does it cost to replace a headlight bulb? WhatCar? highlights the gulf that has emerged between the latest LED and high-intensity discharge (HID) or xenon units and halogen bulbs. These modern headlights can offer better performance, safety and looks, but this comes at a price.  They cost significantly more than halogen headlights, with many being  sealed inside headlight units.

Modern headlights are not just limited to luxury high end cars either.  WhatCar? states that out of 13 small hatchbacks they looked at, three had LED lights and four had HID lamps as standard on some or all trim levels. Four of the models they looked at came with sealed headlight units that cost between £684 and £846 to replace.

Clearly, for opportunist thieves and organised criminal gangs, car headlight thefts must be driving lucrative returns on the car parts black market. However, there has also been a spate of another criminal activity that uses these types of LED lights and may be fuelling the car headlight theft surge…

Are ‘illegal cannabis farms’ fuelling the surge in car headlight thefts across the UK?

Empty property security

(Image credit to ScunthorpeLive)

Illegal cannabis farms are becoming increasingly common across the UK, especially within vacant business units on industrial estates. A quick scan across the news media shows a raft of recent incidents where cannabis farms have been set up in empty business units on industrial estates. For example:

> Huge £4m Scunthorpe drugs factory is the biggest detective has seen in 30 years / Lincolnshire

> Inside the cannabis factory tucked away on a Weldon industrial estate / Northamptonshire

> Angmering cannabis factory found at industrial estate / West Sussex

> Smell of weed leads police to huge cannabis factory on Gloucestershire industrial estate / Gloucestershire

> £1.5 million cannabis factory discovered at industrial unit / West Midlands

Motoring blogs have blamed the car headlight theft trend  surge in thefts on  marijuana farmers being unwilling to fork out for the expensive lighting systems needed to maximise their harvest. The Guardian links this to a spate of Xenon HID headlight thefts of from Porsche Cayenne and Panamera models.

As a leading remote security monitoring security centre, we monitor Fire & Intruder alarms, CCTV and Access Control systems for many businesses within the automotive retail sector, and also work with many business owners who manage security for industrial estates across the country – as well as those managing empty property security.   It is interesting to consider that the surge in car parts thefts,  illegal drugs related crimes and industrial premises security breaches are interlinked and feed off one another. It also certainly moves the focus from opportunist incidents to organised criminal activities.

Optimising car dealership forecourt security is crucial

With the threats posed by both opportunists and organised crime to motor dealerships and car showroom forecourts, whether part of large automotive retail groups or independents, it is clear that effective security is vital to protecting assets, premises and people.

It is estimated by UHY Hacker Young that the value of inventory that is held by UK car dealerships on the forecourts is as high as £27.3 billion, which demonstrates the significant level of risk that these businesses must mitigate. As such, maintaining and optimising the security of car showrooms and vehicle retail forecourts is a key priority and one that most take very seriously.

Increasingly, the use of CCTV and remote CCTV monitoring station partners is being considered as a crucial measure, as part many security systems and strategies to protect their assets, premises and people.

The use of CCTV systems and CCTV remote monitoring have many benefits in protecting businesses from vehicle crime, such as the potential to proactively deter incidents in real time and  prevent them progressing with audio warnings and a rapid response escalation in contrast to retrospective reflection once the incident has happened and loss/damage has occurred.

Preventative security measures are particularly important as according to the Office for National Statistics, just 40% of stolen vehicles are recovered. Most of these are damaged and 20% written off. As for car parts, it is very difficult to track these down, let alone recover them.

See how remote monitoring with Farsight works:

Speak to the remote monitoring security experts

Farsight has worked across the automotive sector, particularly car dealerships car showrooms, vehicle hire groups and motorcycle dealerships for many years and considers itself as a leading remote security monitoring partner working with businesses large and small.

Our security team would be happy to discuss your security optimisation needs to help you mitigate against vehicle crime, whether you are a security installer or responsible for site security. Simply drop us a line via our contact form, request a call back or give us a call on 0845 371 0101.

Further reading

We have produced several articles and guides that may help you in making important decisions in optimising site security at car showroom site(s) or car dealership forecourt(s).

> Industrial Estate Security

> Essential Autumn Security Tips

> Why do you need remote monitoring services?

> Empty Property Security

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