So why is the average time falling, and which cars are most at risk?
FasterThe research says the secret of the thieves' success is the fact that they no longer try to force their way into a car and start it without the key: modern technology makes this nigh-on impossible in many cases.
Instead, in two thirds of cases, they just steal the key and drive away. This means that the average time taken to steal a car has fallen to just 10 seconds - from an average of a minute a decade ago.
KeysIt emerged that keys are remarkably poorly guarded. In just under half of thefts, they were taken from the property during a burglary, and the thief carried the loot away in the car.
Other thefts use more creative means to get around security features. 'Lifting' - where the car is loaded onto the back of a truck - now makes up 14% of all car thefts. This is up from 12% last year - and has been on the rise for the last three years. In other instances keys are forcibly taken from individuals while they are with their car - accounting for 6% of all cases where the criminal has the keys.
Models at riskThere is a clear division between opportunistic thefts - such as those after a burglary - and those which are planned. The latter tend to be stolen to order. The thieves that took part in the research said that the most popular cars to be stolen are black Audis, followed by silver and black BMWs. When asked for the least desirable model and colour they named yellow Smart cars.
The research also revealed why so many stolen cars disappear from sight. One criminal said that stripping it back to its parts will often make ten times more for the criminal, while high-end cars many be shipped in lead-lined containers (to stop the tracker working).