Israel Worst at Finding Stolen Cars

Israel is last in the Western world in finding stolen cars and returning them to their owners: Only 26 percent of all cars that disappear are ever found and returned.

Israel is last in the Western world in finding stolen cars and returning them to their owners: Only 26 percent of all cars that disappear are ever found and returned. In comparison, the figures are 68 percent in Europe and 65 percent in the U.S., TheMarker has learned.

The reason for the extremely low numbers is the huge demand for cars by criminals, who use stolen cars for parts to repair vehicles damaged in serious accidents - but were not taken off the roads.

A repaired vehicle is often returned to use after a serious accident in the guise of a used car in good condition, according to Ronen Levy, the chairman of the Israel Garage Association.

"Today, cars that are damaged in a serious accident will be taken off the roads if the cost of repairs is more than 60 percent of the value of the car, but the Supervisor of Insurance allows the sale of cars that are only 50 percent damaged to a third party under the title of 'de facto loss.' The buyer receives not only a wreck, but also the automobile license, and is not required to inform anyone," explained Levy.

There are more than 15,000 cars stolen every year which are stripped for parts, according to police figures. This is a loss worth NIS 900 million a year for the public. In addition, the insurance companies, the state and other businesses in the sector suffer losses when they cannot sell legal spare parts. The large demand for cheap parts is what raises the overall level of thefts, which reached over 33,000 in 2006, the highest proportion in any Western country in comparison to the number of cars.