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Gardai warn rise in car thefts is due to Japanese imports with no immobilisers

Car thefts have reached a seven year high

Stock Image/Deposit Photos

Clodagh Meaney

A recent rise in car thefts has been blamed on cars imported from Japan with no immobilisers.

Gardai have warned that car thefts have reached a seven-year high.

A meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) heard that May recorded the most car thefts in a single month since October 2015.

In Cork City city there has been a 164% increase in car thefts, with a 328% increase in reports of interfering with a vehicle with intent to steal an item or a vehicle.

Crime prevention officer, Sargent Brian McSweeney said that Gardaí in Cork analysed the figures and noticed a trend of Japanese imports being taken.

“We raised it nationally to see if it was just a Cork problem or was it a national problem.”

"The garda analysis service took a look at the problem from a national perspective and found that May 2022 saw the most incidents reported in a single month since October 2015 of cars taken nationally."

“These are vehicles which are being brought in from Asian market and they don't have the immobiliser safety features and the criminals involved in this type of crime know this and they are targeting these types of cars and so it is very easy to steal them in the old fashioned way,” he continued. An immobiliser stops a car from being started unless a key unique to that car is used to start it.

Speaking to Newstalk, Joey Donnelly from Crofton Motors explained: “Unfortunately the specifications of those cars are built slightly different in Asia.”

“And a lot of Toyotas and Hondas and stuff and some of those Asian models are coming in with no immobilisers on them.”

“That is the issue and they become much easier to rob and to go back to your old 80s style smash a window, break the ignition, turn a screwdriver and they drive away,” he said.

“A lot of the Japanese imports that are being imported currently are hybrids and automatics, so they’re 2015, 16, 17 Hondas and Toyotas.”

“They’re automatics, they’re so easy to rob at the minute if they don’t have an immobiliser on them they can get out in a car in 15, 20, 30 seconds and they just put the car in drive and hit the accelerator,” he explained.

“There’s so little skill involved for these guys that I’m hearing locally that the thieves that they’re catching in this particular type of theft are extremely young.”

Gardai did not identify the exact type of cars being targeted in order to protect car dealers and owners.

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