Only 7 police forces managed to reduce car theft in 2018

Keyless theft

Just seven police forces in England and Wales cut the number of car thefts in 2018, with three forces reporting a double-digit fall in the number of crimes.

Car theft was down 21.8 percent in the City of London, with the British Transport Police (11.9 percent) and Wiltshire (11.2 percent) also seeing a reduction.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there was a 37.5 percent increase in the number of car thefts in Staffordshire, along with a 27.3 percent increase in Bedfordshire and a 26.6 percent rise in Thames Valley.

Car crime is on the up again following a downward trend in the number of vehicle thefts, with so-called ‘relay attacks’ at the centre of the problem.

Ninety-six percent of motorists are at risk of having their car stolen using this method, according to figures released by Tracker.

‘Troubling car crime figures’

police chasing suspects

Alex Buttle, director of car selling comparison website Motorway.co.uk, said: “These troubling car crime figures suggest that over-stretched and under-resourced police forces are struggling to curb the rising number of car crimes, and in particular keyless car thefts.

“The police can only do so much, and there is a responsibility on drivers, particularly those with highly desirable prestige motors, to check they are not being watched, to keep their car keys in a safe place away from windows and front doors, and to consider fitting a tracking device as an added level of protection.”

Police forces with the largest rises in car thefts

Police forceCar thefts (2017)Car thefts (2018)Percentage rise
Staffordshire1,3321,83137.5
Bedfordshire1,0541,34227.3
Thames Valley2,5743,26526.8
Surrey1,2571,53722.3
Durham63176020.4
Gwent68181319.4
West Midlands9,38611,14018.7
Derbyshire1,0551,25218.7
Northumbria1,4111,66718.1
Essex4,2164,91516.6

Police forces with the largest falls in car thefts

Police forceCar thefts (2017)Car thefts (2018)Percentage fall
City of London7861-21.8
British Transport Police464409-11.9
Wiltshire636565-11.2
Humberside1,4891,352-9.2
Dyfed-Powys211195-7.6
Merseyside3,0632,836-7.4
Avon and Somerset2,4762,352-5.0

Lancashire Police excluded due to the lack of a complete dataset