Motor vehicle thefts soar by 56 per cent in ‘disturbing’ increase over last four years, figures show

Conrad Duncan
·2-min read
Undated file photo of a hand reaching into a car through a broken window: PA
Undated file photo of a hand reaching into a car through a broken window: PA

Motor vehicles thefts in the UK have soared by 56 per cent in four years, with numbers “rocketing” in some parts of the country, new figures have shown.

Some 152,541 vehicles were stolen in 2018-19 compared with 97,609 in 2014-15, according to police data obtained by RAC Insurance.

Six forces saw thefts more than double over the period, such as Suffolk (from 347 to 945), Surrey (from 661 to 1,543) and Greater Manchester (from 3,018 to 6,223).

The largest rises in terms of vehicle numbers were recorded by Kent Police (up 12,550 to 40,726), Metropolitan Police (up 9,635 to 30,773) and West Midlands Police (up 5,677 to 10,372).

Only three police forces (Lincolnshire, the City of London and Police Scotland) which responded to Freedom of Information requests recorded a reduction in thefts over the period.

“These figures paint a rather disturbing picture,” Simon Williams, an RAC Insurance spokesperson, said.

“Vehicle thefts are on the rise almost everywhere, and in some parts of the country numbers are rocketing.

“It's also not the case that the rises in crime are confined to a few larger urban areas, with many police forces covering more rural areas also seeing big increases.”

Mr Williams noted that vehicle crime was at a far lower level than it had been in the early 1990s but said the rise in thefts was “still concerning”.

He suggested the increase was partly due to a rise in thefts of vehicles which are easier to steal, such as motorbikes and mopeds that are less likely to have immobilisers.

“While organised criminal gangs are responsible for a large proportion of crime, thieves will also be opportunistic in nature so the more a driver can do to make their car a less likely target the better,” Mr Williams added.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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