Virtually every type of vehicle, mechanical, motorized, or otherwise powered, has been and still is subject to theft. Even babycarriages, biplanes and boats have been absconded with, but the thefts of bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles, utility vehicles and trucks is an international phenomenon. Some of this activity may involve organized crime and thus represent an illegal industry of large proportions. Other thefts are perpetrated by adolescents seeking the excitement of ownership and operation. Insufficient safeguards to prevent vehicular theft is a contributory factor.
Neglecting national variations in the basis of statistical estimates, figures from Interpol indicate that in 1990 there were approximately 3,563,000 cases of vehicle theft reported from 91 countries worldwide, namely 118 per 100,000 population; some 583,000 (namely 16%) were claimed to have been resolved. In 1993 organized car theft and smuggling of vehicles was recognized as one of Europe's fastest growing crimes. Heavy goods vehicles and high performance cars are stolen for subsequent sale throughout Europe and the Middle and Far East. In the UK in 1992, £648 million was paid in insurance for stolen cars.