Audi RS4 owners are counting the cost of a new and rising crime trend – with front seats being stolen to order.
The superior seating is being ripped out of the performance vehicles – and as Audi doesn't make the seats any more, many insurers are saying the £19,000 cost of replacements is just too prohibitive and are writing the vehicles off, reports The Telegraph.
It highlights four victims, with one of them, Adam McKenzie, an energy trader of south London, discovering that after the thieves had succeeded in unbolting the front seats they had got them out of the smashed windows.
The Telegraph adds that reports by dealers, on forums and from after-market alarm-installers indicate that seats in any RS4 parked in a street, especially those in London, aren't safe. As only approximately 2,000 RS4s were made and the seats are known for their durability, it is believed they are being taken because of a new "fashion" in modification called OEM-plus, whereby original equipment manufacturer parts from high-end vehicles are stripped from top marques to use in lower-end vehicles.
The Telegraph quotes Performance VW magazine editor Elliott Roberts, who says fitting the parts is made quite easy thanks to car manufacturers having a number of brands, with them all sharing platforms and parts.
But the RS4 seats now have to be imported in parts and can take specialists more than 20 hours to fit to get the Audi back up to spec, hence the high cost.
And because there is no identification linking seats to vehicles or tagging of the seats, it makes life even easier for the criminals – something that annoys McKenzie, who said: "It's not going to stop unless they [Audi] help existing owners."
An ineffectual alarm system also comes in for criticism, with the Telegraph quoting Antony Noto, who owns mobile alarm-fitting company Secure My Car, which covers most of the UK, as saying: "The RS4 security system is very poor. The siren is very quiet and the sensors can be disabled in seconds."
Mr Noto added that he knew of some 30 seat-theft cases in the London area in the past year, with most of them being from RS4s.