Lockdowns and border closures have been behind the decline in car thefts. Now the numbers are approaching the pre-corona level again.

The number of stolen cars in Germany has increased again after a pandemic-related decline. In total, thieves stole almost 16,500 cars last year, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said on Tuesday.

This is an increase of 17.5 percent compared to the previous year. The number is now at a similar level as before the pandemic, it said.

The groups of perpetrators mostly acted across national borders, explained Stefan Michel from the BKA. The outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 closed the borders in Europe and introduced controls. These restrictions were lifted last year. The numbers in 2021 rose particularly drastically compared to the previous year in Hesse with an increase of 78.6 percent, followed by Lower Saxony (64.2) and Bremen (42.6).

Despite an increase in hybrid and electric vehicles, criminals continued to focus on cars with conventional internal combustion engines. According to investigators, the stolen vehicles were often first taken to Eastern Europe and then transported to Central Asia or the Middle East for resale.