Another penalty for Slovakia reputation as car thieves strike, not only do the B.A light fingered fraternity steal from their own heroes, now they have hit the hockey championships again in the form of car theft, no surprises there.
Trying to trace a stolen car is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But drivers losing their vehicles in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, have it especially bad. With three borders nearby – Austrian, Czech and Hungarian – Bratislava loses scores of cars daily to and through those countries, to Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro. In the latter country, stolen motors are now said to be “worth their weight in meat”.
However 300,000 cars are stolen in the UK alone each year, many of them from outside owners’ homes. Worldwide, thieves take up to five million cars annually. Where do all these vehicles go? Over 60% of those stolen in Britain are returned to their owners possibly damaged and normally within 48 hours of being taken, while many of those taken are held as evidence for months on end as they were used in serious crime. The remainder are usually stolen by thieves who are paid up to EUR 1,000 by ringleaders.
These vehicles suffer one of three fates: 1. to be taken to a ‘chop shop’ partially or totally cannabises, and sold as spare parts in the UK or abroad; 2. Reborn with a new identity and sold on within the UK or 3. Or car-napped and spirited out of the country with false export documents.
As many as Twenty thousand stolen cars are said to be shipped intact, and the same in pieces, from the UK each year, usually in containers, while a similar amount stolen abroad find their way here. Up to three cars – or the best spare parts from 20 cars – inside one 40ft container, before dispatch to a port with papers claiming they’re sanitary pads or fridges.
The traffic is now a huge international merry-go-round. Roughly 1.5m cars stolen abroad are said to be on Russia’s roads (if stolen again, they will then head for Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Syria or Finland.) From Germany alone, Russia receives 170,000 stolen cars each year (via the ‘sorting office’ knows as Poland), and a further 550,000 are cannibalised within Germany to provide parts for those that have already offskied.
Two thirds of the cars stolen in France are German-designed. Many end up in Germany, but more go to Russia, Switzerland or to the Middle East and Tunisia. The US loses cars in all directions – Asian-designed cars from New Jersey are reborn in Italy or the Middle East; luxury cars from Miami cruise the Caribbean and South America and go to Russia with love. From the West Coast cars go to China, while from south-western states most head to Mexico, where they may even surface as police vehicles. More curiously still, the FBI is pondering how cars used for bombs in Iraq could have been reported stolen in America…