The need for applying common sense to the recipe for deterring and detecting vehicle crime

At Retainagroup, we find it increasingly interesting to look back on the 36 years during which we have spent helping to fight vehicle crime, particularly in the light of the recent and significant rise in theft rates and the reduction in recovery rates.  We believe this serious situation is the result of an ongoing lack of understanding in some quarters of the need for a combination of security systems that will:  1: deter theft in the first place and 2: ensure criminals are at maximum risk of prosecution if they steal or clone a protected vehicle.

During the 1990s, vehicle manufacturers and UK importers received significant encouragement through the Insurance Group Rating system and New Vehicle Security Assessment (NVSA) to etch vehicle windows as a deterrent to theft and an aid to recovery.  This continued until 2005 when, despite solid proof of success a change to the NVSA resulted in a lack of support and encouragement for window etching and overt marking, which started to have a negative impact.  By 2008, the number of vehicles protected in this way dropped from 750k per annum to less than 200k.  Those companies that gave up the etching were able to obtain their desired group ratings by replacing it with electronic VINs and various types of parts marking labels that were removable without trace.

We are now facing a situation where police forces do not have sufficient resources to focus on tackling vehicle crime, criminals have learned how to keep defeating every new electronic security system and only a relatively small number of new vehicles have their windows etched, or their parts identified by products that provide traceability.

Until now, the insurance industry has sighted the fact that only a small percentage of their costs are due to vehicle crime but this ignores the challenges faced by police, particularly at a time of reduced resources. In addition to the escalation in theft and fraud, the Police have to combat the ever-present threat posed by terrorists using vehicles to assist with committing their acts of terror, making the correct identification of vehicles at the roadside ever more important.

It should be noted that cyber technology cannot destroy a vehicle’s identity if its windows and/or parts have been marked and the vehicle is registered on a secure database. Although this will not prevent cyber targeting, it should certainly be another compelling reason for deterring criminals from stealing a protected vehicle – its original identity will still be verifiable through the unique etch code and will further increase the risk of being caught and prosecuted.


We hope that amongst those clamouring for yet more technical solutions (that students of the University of Criminals are virtually bound to overcome), there will be some who will successfully fight for official support for good old tried, tested, proven, visible and permanent, window and parts marking.  Not, of course, just the marking – for any such system to be truly effective, marks must include a 24/7 phone number linking vehicles to a secure, accredited database on which their details are held, with a round the clock verification service provided free of charge to all enquirers.

Enquiries:  +44 (0)1233 333000 (24 hours)



Founded in 1982, the Company is unique in its provision of a security marking system that includes registration on a secure database and provision of a 24/7 telephone verification service.  The system deters and detects vehicle crime, helping to identify and combat criminal activities such as cloning and fraudulent insurance claims.  It also provides a secure service for the provision of replacement VIN plates and other critical vehicle parts.

Through our commitment to quality, security and innovation, we have created a highly trusted brand.  We do not sub-contract any of our activities, designing and developing all our products in-house.  Innovation has been the DNA of our organisational culture. We have implemented and improved a range of products and services to provide the most effective marking solutions, including a combined over/covert label and a state of the art portable laser system.

The International Security Register – our non-cloud based secured database, certified to ISO 27001:2013 – enables us to provide accurate and insightful data analytics to law enforcement agencies, as well as to our customers, at a national and global level. Through this system, proven over 35 years, we enable all the key stakeholders – police, government, insurers, vehicle manufacturers, importers and dealers, as well as vehicle owners and members of the public – to cooperate in the fight against vehicle crime.  For instance, our glass marking system, which etches a 7-digit code and the ISR 24/7 phone number into all the windows of a vehicle and is used by the motor industry to protect many well-known brands, provides police with a means by which they can immediately check the status of vehicle seen in suspicious circumstances.

Please contact us for further information:

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T          : +44 (0) 1233 504162