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To joyride is to drive around in a stolen vehicle with no particular goal; a ride taken solely for pleasure.
In English law, joyriding is not considered to be theft, because the intention to "permanently deprive" the owner of the vehicle cannot be proven. Instead, a separate offense of "taking without consent", usually known by the acronym TWOC, applies to motor vehicles. Therefore "twoccing" or "twocking" is another term for joyriding. In Northern Ireland, joyriding is a common crime and many people have campaigned against it. During The Troubles, paramilitaries such as the Provisional IRA administered extralegal punishment to joyriders, usually consisting of breaking their fingers and/or kneecaps, thus rendering them unable to operate a vehicle again. These punishments are still given today if there is a suspected joyrider, but by the Continuity IRA, a breakaway organization from the Provisional IRA.
Joyriders or other car thieves often gain access to a locked car with just a flathead screwdriver, although modern cars have systems to prevent a screwdriver opening locks. In cars manufactured before the mid-1990s, locks were very weak and could be opened easily. The vehicle is started by either hotwiring or breaking the ignition lock. Ignition systems were much less sophisticated before the mid-1990s and easier to bypass. The vehicle is often driven through rural areas to avoid police notice, and when the vehicle is exhausted of fuel or damaged, it is dumped. Thieves sometimes then set it on fire to remove evidence.
- Vauxhall Belmont (1986-1991)
- Vauxhall Astra Mk2 (1984-1991)
- Ford Escort Mk3 (1980-1990)
- Austin/MG Metro (1980-1990)
- Vauxhall Nova (1983-1993)
- Ford Orion (1983-1993)
- Rover Metro (1990-1994)
- Austin/MG/Rover Maestro (1983-1994)
- Austin/MG/Rover Montego (1984-1994)
- Ford Fiesta Mks1, 2 and 3 (1976-1995)
The lack of security in older cars compared to modern equivalents is reflected in the fact that all of the cars listed had been out of production for at least 10 years and the oldest examples of most of these cars were at least 20 years old.
In 2009 The Home Office conducted a new survey and found out the most stolen cars (per registered) were as follows:
- Vauxhall Astra (1980-present)
- Volkswagen Golf (1974-present)
- Ford Fiesta (1976-present)
- Ford Focus (1998-present)
- Ford Escort (1968-2000)
- Vauxhall Corsa (1993-present)
- Ford Mondeo (1993-present)
- Ford Transit (1964-present)
- Vauxhall Vectra (1995-2008)
- Honda Civic (1972-present)
The information released does not show the specific generation of a car, making it difficult to determine how many older examples were stolen in relation to more modern ones. For instance, the Ford Transit nameplate dates back to 1964 and the Ford Fiesta first appeared in 1976. However, the Ford Focus is the only nameplate on the list to have been introduced after 1995, around the time that car security standards became more advanced.
In the USA the most stolen cars in 2007 (per registered) were:
- Honda Civic
- Honda Accord
- Toyota Camry
- Ford F-150
- Chevrolet C/K 1500
- Acura Integra
- Dodge Ram Pickup
- Nissan Sentra
- Toyota Pickup
- Toyota Corolla
- England and Wales: Theft Act 1968 (c. 60), ss. 12, 12A; Scotland: Strathern v. Seaforth, 1926 J. C. 100; Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52), s. 178; Northern Ireland: Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 (Chapter 16), s. 12; Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (No. 154 (N.I. 1)), Art. 172