Things will never change until the goverment gets tough on car crime and puts it in the same class as Burglary, really gutted for your mate this has happened to me many years ago so know how he feels.
The terrible thing is that if you disturbed the thief and gave them a good hiding you would recieve a stiffer sentence than they would, have to say though I'd take my chances in court - complete W@#kers !
Just back from a week in France the thieving scum obviously didnt like my 17" 5 spoke alloys as they are still holding up my car. Or maybe they couldnt lift the 90 bottles of wine i managed to squeeze in next the our luggage. (still got 50mpg on way home!)