Police budget cuts are leading to a quarter of stolen cars not being investigated, according to figures revealed this morning.
A series of Freedom of Information requests by anti-fraud specialists Asset Protection Unit (APU) discovered that, out of the estimated 117,000 cars stolen a year, 59,000 are never recovered – and half of these aren’t even investigated.
The company says that businesses are hardest hit, as police will often classify the taking of fleet or courtesy cars as a civil matter and won’t open a case.
APU’s director of investigative services, Neil Thomas, said: “If a vehicle owned by a business rather than an individual – such as a fleet vehicle or garage courtesy car – goes missing, frequently the police tend to consider it a civil crime because the business has effectively allowed someone the use of that car.
“Increasing pressure on police forces in the form of budget cuts and overstretched resources means not enough time can be dedicated to the investigation and retrieval of stolen vehicles.
“But it isn’t just companies that are affected by the findings of our study – a proportion of those thefts not looked into will be private car owners too.”
Last year, an HMIC report revealed that police failed to attend a quarter of vehicle theft-related crimes the year before.