Luckily for most people, car theft in this part of the world is relatively rare. That said, thousands of cars are stolen from Ireland and the UK every year – often from the driveway while their owners are asleep. Many of these are never recovered, as they are usually stripped down for parts. In many cases, thieves use radio frequency transmitters to trick the car into unlocking as if they had the actual keys, a system called the ‘transmitter relay’ method. When it comes to the most expensive cars in the world, however, the stakes are much higher and the methods even more audacious. Read on to discover some of the most high-value car thefts ever.
1968 Chevrolet Corvette C3
Many stolen cars are never recovered, while other owners may have to wait weeks or months to find out the fate of their beloved vehicle – but imagine waiting for decades! In 1969, a classic ’68 Corvette C3 was stolen from the owner’s garage in America. He’d just gone through a divorce and bought the car immediately afterwards, supposedly to enjoy his new life. Unfortunately, thieves put paid to this plan.
Incredibly, 37 years later, in December 2006, the owner got an unexpected call from customs agents, who had recovered the stolen Corvette just as it was about to be shipped to Sweden. Thanks to the diligent work of the detectives on the case, the car was finally reunited with its owner – almost four decades after originally going missing!
1996 Ferrari F50
At $750,000, this car was always going to attract attention – and not just from thieves. But this story is perhaps the most unfortunate ever. This particular Ferrari had become the latest target of a thief who was known to have a penchant for Italian exports. Luckily for the owner, the car was found by the FBI during a drugs raid on a storage warehouse.
Unfortunately, while driving it to the FBI headquarters, the agents reportedly crashed and wrecked the $750,000 car, blaming the accident on “bald tyres”. Shortly afterwards, in 2012, the F50 went up for auction as salvage with the bidding starting at just $65,000, a fraction of its true value.
2011 Ferrari 599 GTB
With the basic model costing over $300,000, this is not the kind of car that you tend to see every day on the streets of Europe. So imagine how surprised you’d be to find one with Swiss number plates abandoned near a German railway station. While police in the German town of Furth were able to recover the 620-horsepower sports car, the driver was never apprehended – unlike his fellow criminals who were swiftly caught after stealing a Bugatti Veyron and the BMW 7-Series.
2003 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
When the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren first came out in 2003, it was priced at a cool $500,000 and was the first road-legal supercar to hit the UK’s roads. Co-produced by McLaren and Mercedes and accelerating from 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds, it was the ultimate car for those with a need for speed – as one UK car thief turned out to have.
Unfortunately, he got a little overconfident and recorded himself on his phone trying to speed test the car as if he was on Top Gear. Instead, he enjoyed a whole episode of “Cars, Cops & Criminals” to himself on UK television, in which the real-life presenters enjoyed the limelight as they showcased the ridiculous story and revealed how he was finally caught.
2011 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport
The Bugatti Veyron is the undisputed king of luxury performance cars, a favourite among celebrities including, most notably, the footballer Ronaldo.
In 2011, two Polish men were arrested in Bayern, Germany, en-route to Poland after stealing a Bugatti Grand Sport Veyron and a BMW 750 Li in neighbouring Switzerland. The cars belonged to a Swiss businessman and were valued at a total of €1.5 million. Although the thieves were able to comfortably outrun any cars the police had at their disposal, what they couldn’t escape was the all-seeing eye of the police helicopter.
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