Fighting vehicle crime

We run a database on stolen vehicles, carry out training and field operations, and work with manufacturers.

Stolen Motor Vehicle Database

The INTERPOL Stolen Motor Vehicle (SMV) database is a vital tool in the fight against international vehicle theft and trafficking. It includes data on stolen cars, trucks, motorbikes, trailers, caravans, buses and their components.

Cars stolen in Europe have been found as far away as South America and Australia.

The database allows police in our member countries to run a check against a suspicious vehicle and find out instantly whether it has been reported as stolen. An international database of this nature is crucial as vehicles are often trafficked across national borders, sometimes ending up thousands of miles away from the location where they were stolen.

In 2020, around 248,976 motor vehicles worldwide were identified as stolen, thanks to the SMV database. Some 135 countries shared their national stolen vehicle data with us, and carried out more than 256 million searches.

The INTERPOL Stolen Motor Vehicle database

Task Force - Field operations

The SMV database is put to use in the field through INTERPOL’s SMV Task Force. Made up of police officers and investigators from the private sector – all of whom are experts in the area of combating vehicle crime – the Task Force supports member countries with law enforcement operations, for example at ports and border crossings, which result in arrests and the recovery of stolen vehicles.

SMV Task Force

Training police in international vehicle theft

Project Formatrain is our standard training programme for investigators of international cases of vehicle theft. Courses include vehicle and document identification; investigative strategies, techniques and tools; the use of INTERPOL's databases and global network; and legal considerations.

The course combines classroom training with an operation or practical exercise, allowing participants to consolidate their new skills by applying them in the field.

Courses are carried out on a regional basis, enabling countries to build working relationships and work together more effectively on cross-border cases. The courses are adapted to the criminal trends threatening that region.

More specialized courses look at digital forensics and plant and construction machinery, which have proven to be very beneficial to member countries. 

By the end of 2018, a total of 30 regional training courses had been delivered, most of them directly followed by field operations.

Working with vehicle manufacturers

To combat vehicle crime effectively requires a combined effort from all stakeholders. We work with a number of major car manufacturing companies to find new ways of detecting stolen motor vehicles and to increase the quality of the data in the Stolen Motor Vehicles database.

Project INVEX currently involves 17 countries and selected manufacturers who regularly exchange data with INTERPOL. Since its inception in 2009 in Germany, INVEX has contributed to the detection of stolen cars and components in about 80 countries, leading to some 500 seizures and various follow-up investigations. Phase II of Project INVEX is being tested and will see the introduction of other manufacturers as well as an increase in the speed of data processing, allowing the rapid collection and analysis of valuable data regarding transnational organized crime.

Project FADA-RI provides secure access for INTERPOL member countries to the German vehicle identification facility known as FADA. This is a valuable tool for identifying forged vehicles. Specifically, the project focuses on the German manufacturers Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Volkswagen and their subsidiary brands.

Looking ahead

Our fight against transnational vehicle crime can only remain effective only if the law enforcement community innovates in line with rapid technological progress.

We are working to enhance our current initiatives to provide better support for the police in our member countries. 

By working closely with other stakeholders in the private sector and law enforcement communities, we will be able to pioneer advances in vehicle industry security and generate more efficient tools to identify and recover stolen vehicles.

This programme is made possible with funding from the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World.