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Warning to drivers as gangs target Ford Fiestas in car theft crimewave

Crafty car bandits are making off with one of the UK's most popular cars so they can be stripped for parts.

CCTV footage of car thieves in action outside a home in Inverbervie back in April. Images: Facebook
CCTV footage of car thieves in action outside a home in Inverbervie back in April. Images: Facebook

More than a dozen Ford Fiestas have been targeted by car thieves across the north-east in the first half of this year as gangs cash in on the “huge” market for second-hand parts, The Press and Journal can reveal.

Brazen thieves use keyless entry techniques to get into the vehicles before taking them to chop shops, where they’re dismantled for their components.

A private security video camera recorded two balaclava-wearing men dressed in all-black clothing outside Victoria Apartments in the Townhead area of Inverbervie, around 1.40am on April 11.

The pair made off with a white Ford Fiesta ST, later discovered abandoned at a Morrisons petrol station in Gilmerton, Edinburgh, with false registration plates.

They’d put £15 of petrol in the vehicle before running off without it.

At the time, Detective Sergeant Scott McKay said “the number of incidents are increasing” and warned: “Fords are often the target of thieves using this method”.

Ford Fiestas have been targeted by thieves across the north-east between March and June 2024. Image: Clarke Cooper/DC Thomson

Police Scotland recently confirmed a total of five Ford Fiesta ST models were stolen just last month alone.

The affected addresses included one in Ellon, and a red Ford Fiesta ST on Provost Stewart Place in Stonehaven between 2.45am and 3.05am on June 5.

Three of the five cars were later recovered, police said.

A further three attempted thefts of Ford Fiestas – on Wellheads Avenue in Dyce, an address in Ellon and the Sheddocksley area of Aberdeen – were also reported to officers in April, May and June.

Thieves struck at the Ellon resident’s home just days before her birthday, although it’s believed they aborted their attempt after turning on the engine to find the fuel light on.

“I don’t think they thought they would get very far with my car,” said the 43-year-old woman, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Rachel.

Brazen car thieves gave security camera ‘the middle finger’

Her security surveillance camera captured the crooks at work in the Aberdeenshire town’s Park Crescent around 4am on June 24.

“I saw them walking away from my car holding toilet rolls they had removed from it, laughing, and turning around to give the camera the middle finger.

“They couldn’t take my car, so they took the toilet rolls to spite me. I couldn’t believe how low these people could go – so disrespectful,” Rachel added.

She has since had an immobiliser installed in her Ford Fiesta ST so the car won’t start without first inputting a code, and the vehicle’s boot has also been disabled.

Masked car bandits caught on camera stealing a Ford Fiesta ST in Inverbervie. Image: Facebook

On April 1, an immobiliser prevented thieves from starting the engine of a grey Ford Fiesta on Lewis Road in Sheddocksley.

Two Ford Fiesta STs, one white and one blue, were successfully stolen from the city’s Summerhill Crescent and Hazlehead Road on the same day, and two men, aged 27 and 28, were charged.

The pair were released on an undertaking to appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on a later date and a 29-year-old man was also reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Speaking after the development, Detective Constable Lewis Ingram urged residents to call the police if they see or hear suspicious activity around a vehicle.

“Acquisitive crime such as having your car stolen can have a significant impact on victims and we will not tolerate this type of behaviour in our communities,” he said.

One Ford Fiesta stolen every 88 minutes across UK in 2023

Police Scotland confirmed that a red Ford Fiesta ST that vanished from Mugiemoss Place in the Bucksburn area of Aberdeen between May 1 and 11 has never been traced.

Another red Ford Fiesta ST went missing from Great Northern Road in the Woodside area of the city on March 6.

A spokeswoman for the constabulary said that both cases are still being investigated with “enquiries ongoing”.

The spike in thefts of Ford Fiestas hasn’t been limited to the north-east, with police issuing a warning to owners back in March when it emerged that 17 Fiestas were stolen across the Tayside region over three weeks.

Last year, 64,087 vehicles were stolen across the UK – one every eight minutes – in a 4.9% increase from 61,106 in 2022, according to the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA).

The official figures included 5,976 stolen Ford Fiestas across the whole of Great Britain – one taken every 88 minutes.

‘They are mostly stolen and stripped for parts … There is a huge market’

DVLA data had previously revealed a 53% spike in Fiesta thefts during 2022, rising from 3,909 in 2021 to 5,979 the following year.

Ross Thomson, owner of RFT Automotive which specialises in fitting after-market security, told The Press and Journal he’s increasingly hearing from owners of Ford Fiestas.

“Last year, figures from the DVLA showed that the Ford Fiesta was the number one stolen vehicle in the UK,” he said.

“It does seem to be predominantly the Fiesta ST that is being targeted.

“They are mostly stolen and then stripped for parts. There is a huge market for second-hand parts for Ford Fiestas.

“With so many of them around, they’re one of the most sold cars in Britain, with a huge demand for parts,” Mr Thomson said.

Ross Thomson, owner of RFT Automotive. Image: RFT Automotive

The most common and far less sophisticated method of keyless theft sees thieves targeting the driver’s door lock, forcefully turning it until the central locking unlocks.

Thieves tampered with a Ford Fiesta driver’s door lock as they attempted to steal the car. Image: Fubar News

Other criminals use a device to amplify a key’s signal, allowing them to unlock the car, start the engine and drive away.

The so-called relay theft method involves a hand-held kit used to search for parked cars that use keyless entry.

If the car key is close enough, the thieves can amplify the signal – sending it to a transmitter that mimics the owner’s key.

Sophisticated Ford Fiesta ST thief unmasked as court jails him

However, not every car thief has eluded detection.

Almost four months ago, a Fife car thief who used a coding device to steal vehicles worth a combined total of £210,000 was jailed by Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

Derrin Gunn, aged 20 at the time, had earlier pled guilty to committing 15 crimes including stealing 10 motors over a five-month period between October 19 2022 and March 28 last year.

Among them were three Ford Fiesta STs, with the shell of one discovered in containers at Whitehill Industrial Estate in Glenrothes during a police raid.

Stolen vehicles and parts were recovered during searches and photographs, videos and text messages linked to vehicle thefts and other offences were uncovered on his mobile phone.

Gunn was later locked up for three years and two months, backdated to April 18 last year.

Jailed Fife Ford Fiesta thief Derrin Gunn. Image: Facebook

Detective Constable Aaron Scoular, of CID Proactive, said: “A number of thefts of Ford vehicles have occurred during recent months in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

“During June, there were five Ford ST model vehicles stolen, with three later recovered.

“We have officers investigating these thefts with the priority of detecting crime and disrupting this criminal activity.”

He urged car owners to “stay one step ahead of criminals” by reviewing their own vehicle security and encouraged them to take extra precautions for prevention.

Further information on keeping your vehicle safe can be found here.

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