According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), car hacking technology purchased by organized crime groups online is contributing to a nearly 20% increase in vehicle thefts. Criminals are using these devices to hack into and steal high-end cars without needing the keys or keyless fobs. These devices can be purchased for as little as £2,500 online or via encrypted message services like Telegram.
The NCA's annual national threat assessment report states that while traditional methods of theft, such as car key burglaries, are still being used, criminals are increasingly turning to new technology like electronic compromise thefts. The rise in vehicle thefts is evident, with 110,739 cases reported in 2022, a 19% increase from 2021.
Sadly, recovering stolen vehicles has become more challenging as criminals utilize "chop shops" to dismantle stolen cars for their parts or ship them abroad. The NCA highlights the difficulty in dealing with organized crime groups' high levels of organization and their ability to tamper with vehicle information to avoid detection.
Graeme Biggar, head of the NCA, warns that the rising cost of living may lead to a surge in "high harm" car thefts, robberies, and burglaries as criminal gangs seek to make more money through offending. He also reveals that cocaine use has increased by 25% in large urban areas in just one year due to low costs and high supply. The NCA estimates that Britons consumed approximately 120 tonnes of cocaine and 40 tonnes of heroin in 2022.
Biggar also discloses that hostile states are using organized crime groups as proxies to target individuals and dissidents in the UK, even posing threats to their lives. He mentions Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea as countries involved in this activity. The NCA, along with MI5 and CT policing, is closely monitoring these developments.
Furthermore, Biggar highlights the alarming number of individuals who pose a sexual threat to children in the UK, estimating between 680,000 and 830,000 people falling into this category. He emphasizes the role of online abuse images in normalizing pedophiles' behavior and increasing the risk of someone going on to abuse a child themselves.
In conclusion, the NCA's report highlights the concerning trends in car thefts, drug consumption, the use of organized crime by hostile states, and the threat posed by individuals who pose a sexual threat to children. Efforts to combat these issues will require a multi-faceted approach involving law enforcement, technology advancements, and international cooperation.