Vehicle theft rises 56% in four years

A Freedom of Information request reveals police forces are dealing with a growing number of thefts of vehicles reports the RAC

Steering wheel lock on a classic Volkswagen

Almost 55,000 MORE vehicles were stolen in 2018-19 compared to four years ago – that’s a 56 percent increase, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

10,000 more vehicles were stolen in 2018-19 alone, compared to the year before.

More than 150,000 vehicles in total were stolen in 2018-19, with some areas recording particularly large increases.

The Freedom of Information request by RAC Insurance showed six forces recorded more than a doubling of vehicle thefts.

They were up 172 percent in Suffolk, 133 percent in Surrey and 121 percent in the West Midlands.

In terms of the number of vehicles stolen, Kent recorded a 12,550 increase to more than 40,000 vehicle thefts, a 45 percent increase.

Almost 10,000 vehicle thefts were recorded by the Metropolitan police (up 46 percent) and the 121 percent rise in the West Midlands was due to an increase of 5,677 to 10,372 vehicle thefts.

Only three regions recorded a reduction in vehicle thefts: Lincolnshire, the City of London and Police Scotland.


RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said the picture “paints a rather disturbing picture – vehicle thefts are on the rise almost everywhere, and in some parts of the country, numbers are rocketing.

“While vehicle crime is at far lower levels today than it was in the early 1990s… it’s still concerning that so many more vehicles are being stolen than just a few years ago.”

Mr Williams said government figures reveal thieves use keys to access vehicles in around half of crimes: “Perhaps some drivers could do more to keep their keys safe.”

A rise in keyless car theft is also behind the figures.  

Thieves, he added, generally prefer stealing vehicles at night, and also favour those parked at owners’ homes.

“Three of the biggest factors that determine whether a car is stolen or not come down to how it’s secured, where it’s kept, and the time of day.”


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Richard Aucock
Richard is director at Motoring Research. He has been with us since 2001, and has been a motoring journalist even longer. He won the IMCO Motoring Writer of the Future Award in 1996 and the acclaimed Sir William Lyons Award in 1998. Both awards are run by the Guild of Motoring Writers and Richard is currently chairman of the world's largest organisation for automotive media professionals. Richard is also a juror for World Car Awards and the UK juror for the AUTOBEST awards.


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