NISSAN is handing over new cars to persistent car thieves in a bid to encourage them to turn informer and aid the war against car crime.
From April the motor vehicle manufacturers will supply cars to seven young offenders' institutions to help with the new national vocational qualification in car crime awareness. In return, young offenders will be expected to divulge the tricks of their trade.
Inmates will be asked to fill out forms saying what time of day they steal cars, which cars they target, how long thefts take and whether alarms are a deterrent.
Research conducted during a pilot study showed car thieves who had completed the 30-hour programme were much less likely to reoffend. A year later, 70 per cent had not reoffended compared with the 80 per cent of all young offenders who reoffend within two years of release.
Car crime is higher in Britain that anywhere else in Europe, with a car stolen every minute.
The new programme will use shock tactics to educate young offenders about the impact of joy-riding. Paramedics will show films of simulated and real accidents and injuries. "It's pretty graphic stuff. Young offenders aren't scared of death, but they are frightened of being maimed," a spokesman said.