Criminal gangs are targeting 1980s classic cars, motorbikes, vans and campervans according to the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI).
The IAATI is urging owners of invest in security equipment as the crime trend shows no sign of abating across the country and particularly in South East England.
Ken German, communications director at IAATI UK said a recent Home Office report highlighted the threat which has seen modern classic vehicle thefts continue into 2016.
“The South East is the hotspot, probably due to the speed at which vehicles can be moved out of the country to Europe and beyond,” Mr German said.
“Models such as Cortinas and Escorts were changing hands for a few hundred quid a decade ago, but as their numbers have dwindled they have become increasingly desirable.
“I’ve heard theories that they might be being stolen for banger racing or parts, but I suspect it’s all about the resale value. Enthusiasts and collectors will pay thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of pounds for a nice example.
“When you add in the fact that most don’t have the security systems that come as standard on modern cars, you can see the attraction for criminals.
“Classic vehicle owners need to react, first by dismissing the idea that “it won’t happen to me” and second by taking practical steps to protect their asset.”
Owners of such vehicles are being warned to install alarms, engine immobilisers, tracking devices and the new DNA invisible markings can all be wise investments.