Classic cars are a favourite among collectors, though vintage vehicles tend to suffer from outdated security measures. With the vehicles proving to be a favourite among organised crime groups, which operate on a supply and demand model, collectors have been the victim of theft with no means of protection beyond insurance. However, social media, improved technology, and specialist insurance are offering collectors new tools to combat would-be thieves.

Post-pandemic, car theft rose 32% in the first six months of 2021, and criminals groups are having greater success in stealing vintage cars, with thefts reported in London, Norwich, and Essex, among other locations in the UK.  

Classic cars are a favourite for organised crime

Expensive cars are usually the target of organised crime. They are often stolen to order and moved on quickly – in many cases overseas, making trace and recovery difficult. Some stolen high-performance cars are used by criminals for obvious reasons.

Classic cars tend not be stolen as frequently. They have limited value to criminals and, in many cases, rarity makes them easier to trace in much the same way as a work of art. This significantly reduces the market available to thieves and therefore their appeal.

Whilst modern cars are fitted with ever more sophisticated security systems, older vehicles will rarely have, or need, similar protections such as alarms, immobilisers, tracking, or Ghost systems. by their nature, they are also potentially easier to break into as they will not be fitted with deadlocks and their ignition systems are much simpler.

Collectors working together

Classic vehicle theft, when it does take place, appears to be primarily aimed at specific cars where parts will be valuable when resold by criminals. Sadly, this means that a stolen car will be quickly stripped and parts distributed via a criminal network.

The positive from this is that the classic car world is a small one and the speed with which car owners, clubs, and associated businesses can circulate information is faster than ever thanks to social media and wider technology. This means that police can act quickly to recover stolen classic cars, both within the UK and further afield.


Lockton's approach to giving our clients guidance is always proactive. We understand that having a car stolen is a distressing experience, even more so when the vehicle can be hard to replace. This is true of both bespoke specification modern cars and also older and rarer models.

This is the point at which simply “being insured” answers only part of the question. If your car is unique or very hard to replace, then you may be compensated for the loss but buying another vehicle could prove to be difficult.

There are some measures you can take to safeguard your car and the following points might be useful.

  • Tracking. These devices will track the vehicle and allow police to pinpoint its location to attempt recovery. The best systems feature an automatic alert if the vehicle is moved unlawfully.
  • Immobilisation. A basic immobiliser will prevent the vehicle from being started. It is usually fitted to the ignition system and cannot be overridden without a fob or similar. Ghost systems, which use existing in-car functions to immobilise the vehicle are mostly unsuitable for older cars as they rely on contemporary technology to operate.
  • Alarm. This will sound if the vehicle is broken into and will alert others to the attempt.
  • Physical security. There are a range of products available to secure your vehicle, including steering wheel locks and wheel clamps.
  • Key security. This is less relevant for older cars as many can be started without their ignition key, but it will add a layer of security.

You can find more information about how vehicle security products are tested and approved for the insurance industry here

and the business that looks after your car will also be able to guide you through what is possible if you are considering fitting a modern security system to an older car.

You should send us details of any system before installing so that we can make sure that it is the right one and approved by the insurer. It is also worth reviewing the security of your garage.

Sadly, Lockton can't physically replace your pride and joy if it is stolen but we can make sure that you not only have the right insurance cover but also some hints as to how to deter criminals from taking away something that you've worked hard to own.

If you would like to find out more, please contact the below.