Insurers applaud concept, and ABI says idea is sound in principle

The ABI is considering proposals for a central fund that would allow the repatriation of stolen vehicles.

The move follows a police appeal to insurers to help recover a consignment of luxury vehicles stolen by an organised crime syndicate.

Detective sergeant Jim Gray of the Greater Manchester Police vehicle fraud and auto crime unit said 26 stolen cars had been shipped from the UK. He said this shipment was linked with 30 other cars shipped out in October last year. The cars were destined for Dubai and some had already arrived. Others he said were still in transit.

Gray said nine of the vehicles had been identified despite false number plates and the relevant insurers had been contacted to foot the shipping costs bill. But, he said, as the remaining vehicles were not identified, they were faced with a bill of between £25,000 and £35,000 to cover the shipping costs.

"The shipping company is taking a risk in transporting the cars back and we are under pressure to move fast before criminals collect the containers in Dubai," Gray said.

He suggested that, in these circumstances, the police needed a central point like the ABI, to pay the costs of getting the cars back and to provide reimbursement once they were identified.

Norwich Union (NU) confirmed that it insured one of the nine identified cars and was aware of the theft. NU motor fraud prevention manager Cath Williams said the theft of prestige cars was an increasing trend.

"These vehicles are stolen to order and it is a very big problem," she said.

Williams applauded the idea of a central point and said: "There should be something organised by the ABI and a move made towards a fund or central forum. It takes work to identify the insurers. The only way to do it is to get cars back."

ABI senior economist Alec Roy said the idea for the ABI to act as a central agency was sound in principle. "We would need the approval from our members to get funding, but it is something we would be interested in looking into," he said.