On Thursday, 22 September, Tandridge Beat issued the following statement:
“A man has been charged in relation to a number of keyless car thefts across Surrey, Sussex, Kent and the Met area. Billy Symes, 18, of Bolton Drive, Morden, has been charged with:
Conspiracy to steal motor vehicles
Conspiracy to handle stolen goods
He has been remanded in custody and is due to appear at Guildford Crown Court on 20 October.”
This news comes at a time when concerns have been growing about rising levels of car theft in the district.
Grant*, from Warlingham, had his Range Rover Sport stolen in August:
“I woke up at 03:15, and saw our driveway gates open, and my car gone: I hadn’t heard anything. Looking at the security cameras I saw that four men had jumped the gates, accessed the car, forced the gates open from the inside, and driven off. It only took them four minutes.”
The car was later found in the Isle of Dogs. In nearby Canning Town, a stolen Range Rover Velar was also discovered, belonging to Catherine*, from Oxted. Police believe both were taken by the same gang.
This was not the first time Catherine had been through this experience:
“In July, my son’s Range Rover Evoque was taken from my drive by joyriders during the night. They did around £10,000 worth of damage to the electrics while they were looking for the tracker. It’s been a horrendous experience.”
The recent spate of car crime in the district appears focused on Range Rovers. With new models costing anything from £30,000 to upwards of £99,000, and thieves able to gain quick access by either using relay theft to bypass the vehicle’s keyless entry system or via the OBD port inside, it offers a potentially big reward. The cars are then either exported overseas, or sold for parts.
Inspector Lyndsey Whatley has recently taken over as Tandridge’s borough commander:
“I am very aware that Tandridge has seen an increase in keyless car thefts recently and the impact this has on victims. The local team is working closely with our neighbouring forces to target suspects and build our intelligence picture.
Keyless car theft is not an issue unique to Tandridge or Surrey and is an offence which occurs nationally. The offence is committed in a very short space of time and can take offenders less than two minutes to gain entry, start the vehicle and drive away.”
Residents are asked to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, no matter how insignificant it may seem. This information allows the police to build a comprehensive picture of what is happening in the area, which can then inform how resources are allocated.
Simon Evans, designing out crime office for Surrey Police, has a word of warning about security cameras:
“CCTV that uses Wi-Fi can sometimes be knocked out by the same equipment used during relay theft. If possible, CCTV should be hard-wired, or use a more expensive multi-frequency Wi-Fi.”
Visit the Surrey Police website for their latest advice on preventing car theft.
(*Names have been changed)