These are the cars most likely to be stolen '“ and it's bad news for some Sheffield drivers

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New research has identified the UK's most stolen cars and it's bad news for owners of premium German models.

Seven of the top ten most commonly taken cars are from brands such as BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Volkswagen, with SUVs and performance models proving particularly vulnerable.

Analysis of British theft rates by marketing agency Colewood revealed that alongside the German marques, luxury British models from Land Rover/Range Rover were prime targets for car thieves.

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Car thefts have risen in recent years after steadily declining for decades. Last year across the UK they reached nearly 105,000. Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that they rose by a staggering 56 per cent in England and Wales in 2017, although Northern Ireland and Scotland both saw smaller decreases.

Every day, nearly 30 cars are identified as stolen and added to the Police National Computer, many of them from high-end brands.

According to the data from Colewood, which has launched a vehicle history check service with the RAC, the Mercedes C-Class is Britain's most stolen car.

It is followed by the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport SUVs. Much of the rise in thefts has been put down to the growing use of keyless entry systems, with vehicles vulnerable to '˜relay attacks'.

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The ONS data shows that almost half of recorded thefts involved criminals entering a car through an unlocked door '“ up from just 13 per cent a decade earlier.

The change in thieves' tactics is so dramatic that security specialists at Thatcham Research, which helps determine insurance groups, are to update their assessment programme to focus on 'digitally compromised' vehicles.

UK's most stolen cars

Mercedes-Benz C-Class BMW X5 Range Rover Sport Mercedes-Benz E-Class BMW 3 Series Land Rover Discovery Range Rover Autobiography BMW M3 VW Golf Audi RS4