More criminals are using devices that allow them to hack into and drive off with high-end cars, all without having to steal car keys, revealed the NCA's annual national threat assessment report.
"Electronic compromise" thefts are bypassing keyless fobs, which have been the subject of increased security by car manufacturers after they were targeted by thieves in the last few years.
Criminals are now equipping themselves with devices that can hack into the controller area networks of cars, which then unlocks their target vehicles. Car hacking tech can be bought for £2,500 ($3,214) online or on Telegram, the encrypted messaging service.
The NCA said criminals are using continuously evolving methods of theft and that offenders are using new technology "to facilitate thefts such as electronic compromise thefts often committed by organized crime groups."
Experts think the devices have contributed to the 110,739 vehicle thefts reported in 2022, a 19 percent increase from the 93,006 cases reported in 2021.
The NCA also warned that it was getting harder to recover stolen cars because criminals use "chop shops" to butcher them for parts for other vehicles. Others even try to ship the vehicles abroad.
"The high levels of organization make it difficult for law enforcement to recover vehicles with criminals using further methods such as tampering with vehicle information to avoid detection," added the NCA.
Graeme Biggar, head of the NCA, cautioned that the rising cost of daily life is threatening to cause a surge in "high harm" car thefts, robberies and burglaries, as gangs are trying to make more money by committing more crimes.
According to Biggar, criminals have already exploited the cost of living crisis to put more people at risk of crime. He also warned that there is a greater risk that all areas of organized acquisitive crime will increase within the next few years.
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Citizens also have more to worry about aside from car theft.
Biggar said that cocaine use has increased by a quarter in large urban areas after only a year amid low costs and high supply. Surprisingly, the trend was revealed by tests of sewage water in big urban areas like London, which Biggar said was a more efficient way of assessing the quantity of drugs being consumed than other methods they have used before.
In the past, Biggar explained that officials relied on the quantity of drug seizures and other police data.
The move emulates the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), which produces an annual report on drug consumption based on analysis of the metabolized products from drugs, including cocaine.
The surge in use came as cocaine prices decreased by about 30 percent in 2022 in the United Kingdom. The NCA also reported that global production rose by 13 percent to an estimated 2,132 tonnes in 2021.
The NCA estimated that Britons consumed around 120 tonnes of cocaine and 40 tonnes of heroin in 2022.
Biggar noted that hostile states are exploiting crime gangs to target individuals and dissidents in the U.K. and that their actions include "threats to life." (Related: Car theft has been effectively decriminalized in London as less than 1% of London car thieves face any legal repercussions.)
These hostile states include Russia, which has long tolerated and occasionally used the cybercrime groups on its territory. Biggar also named countries like China, Iran and North Korea as examples of hostile states.
Biggar noted that in recent years, hostile states have started using organized crime groups, although not always of the same nationality, as proxies. This development is being closely monitored by the NCA and their colleagues in MI5 and CT (counter-terrorism) policing. He added that it has become more difficult for states to use their own agents in the U.K., following the tragic poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury five years ago.
According to Biggar, the biggest group of offenders in the U.K. are those who pose a sexual threat to children. Between 680,000 and 830,000 individuals fit this category, which is alarming because the figure is at least ten times the prison population.
Biggar cautioned that the availability of abuse images online has a radicalizing effect and normalizes pedophiles’ behavior. Viewing these images, whether real or AI-generated, increases the risk of someone attempting to abuse a child themselves.
There are an estimated 59,000 people involved in serious organized crime in the U.K., with around £12 billion ($15 billion) generated by criminal activities annually. At least £100 billion ($128 billion) of dirty cash from around the world is laundered through the country.
Visit Collapse.news for more stories about the rising crime rates in the U.S and other countries.
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