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Criminal gangs target motorsport

An expert in vehicle crime says that motorsport has become a target for criminal gangs, while teams are also facing increasing difficulties when it comes to retrieving stolen racecars or parts, due to problems with proof of ownership. Ken German, a retired head

of the Metropolitan Police stolen vehicle squad and a former president of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, told Racecar Engineering that he is convinced that racecar and motorsport parts theft is a growing problem: ‘Racecars and parts are clearly expensive items, a fact that organised criminal gangs are well aware of,’ he said. ‘Quite a few competition cars have been stolen in the past 12 months and certainly many parts, too.’ German said that many

stolen racecars are being sent abroad: ‘Race vehicles are being sucked in like a sponge from the [former] Eastern Bloc countries, that’s where the money is. It’s becoming rife and, without the expertise in the police

service – no vehicle squads left, no training, etc – things will undoubtedly get worse.’ A former racer himself, having

competed in cars and bikes, German says part of the problem is that there is no way of a buyer knowing whether a racecar has been stolen, and he believes it would be useful if there was a way of logging all thefts. ‘If they had a central database where police and custom officers could find out if a racecar had been stolen, that might help.’ Yet German warns that even if someone is caught with the stolen item, the main problem facing a victim of a theft is proof of ownership: ‘The problem is that old cherry of identification, or lack of it. Police haven’t got the resources, and you won’t get it back at court because the judge or the magistrate will say: “I’m sorry, I believe it might be yours, but this man says it’s his and he bought it in good faith and we can’t prove otherwise. You can’t have it back because there’s a chance that there might be two of them in the world.” If there is


that chance, you’ve lost it.’ German, who now acts as a

consultant, warns that chassis plates are easily removed or changed, and advises that teams and competitors invest in technology to make sure they can identify retrieved racecars or parts: ‘You can mark parts in any way you like. There are microchips – if you think it’s worth it and if you can hide them – and you can use the new DNA liquids, which are inexpensive.’ As to just how big the problem

of racecar theft actually is around the world, German says it’s impossible to say for sure because there are currently no central records in existence.


In an effort to get an idea of the actual size of this problem, it’s been suggested Racecar Engineering asks its readers if any have had a racecar or spares and equipment stolen within the last year. Send details to Mike Breslin at bresmedia@


Green teams McLaren has picked up a prestigious Edison Award (named after Thomas Edison, the father of incandescent electric lighting) for being the first carbon neutral F1 team last year. The British team were only beaten into second place by the VW Group of America. Meanwhile, Sauber has announced that it is also now operating at ‘greenhouse gas neutral’, as the result of a new promotional partnership with Carbon Neutral Investments (CNI), one of the world’s leading companies in carbon offset schemes.

Show numbers This year’s Autosport International show attracted 28,500 visitors, 5100 of them from outside of the UK, according to surveys carried out by its organiser. Over £800m worth of business is said to have been generated at the show, with over 40 per cent of trade visitors being either chairman, director or owner of the companies they represented. Ninety-two per cent of

visitors questioned said their main objective at the show was to network with contacts and suppliers.

This is Mitsubishi’s new entry in the Electric Class at the Pikes Peak hillclimb. The car uses the same motor, drive battery and other major components as the

production i-MiEV, all fitted into a tube-frame chassis with a carbon fibre cowl. The four-wheel drive hill

racer has a single motor driving

the front wheels and two motors driving the rear wheels, producing a combined total of 240kW of power – 80kW from each motor.

Chevy opts for SS The Chevrolet Super Sport (SS) is to be the base model for General Motors’ NASCAR Sprint Cup assault in 2013. The Chevy road car featuring the SS badge will be a V8- powered, rear-wheel drive sedan, the first on offer from the company in the US in 17 years. New bodies will be introduced in the Cup next year as manufacturers have moved to try to make their racecars look more like their road cars. The SS will go head to head with Ford’s Fusion, Toyota’s Camry and the Dodge Charger in the Sprint Cup in 2013.

July 2012 • 85

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