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How Common Is Car Theft In The UK

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  • 02-01-2022
How Common Is Car Theft In The UK

How common is car theft in the UK? Find out whether car crime has become more or less of a problem in recent years. Is your car in danger of being stolen?

Motor Vehicle Thefts in England and Wales

England and Wales experienced approximately 89.4 thousand vehicle thefts in 2020-2021, which displays a considerable drop when you compare these stats to the previous years.

Despite the more recent occurrences and increase in these offences, objectively, fewer thefts of vehicles have occurred since 2002-2003.

There were up to 307,000 motor vehicle theft crimes a year in past years. However, it was followed by a massive decline over the ten-years previous in 2013-2014, when vehicle crime was approximately 70,000.

Yet, these are still such drastic numbers that prove that the local police force often abandons motor vehicle theft.

The dramatic fall of motor vehicle theft in 2002-2003 up to the mid-2010s that suddenly rose in more recent years suggests an interesting pattern concerning the UK crime rate figures.

Altogether, in 2019-2020, there were approximately 6.43 million theft offences, demonstrating a massive increase of around 1.43 million crimes compared to the national statistics in 2013-2014.

The overall crime uptick has caught the attention of the British media in the most recent years. There have been various cuts in funding for the police, leading to being understaffed for multiple jobs, a significant lack of police supervision on both sides and a decline in the numbers of officers.  

How Common Is Car Theft In The UK?

What Are UK Car Theft Hotspots?

In 2020, more cars and vehicles were reported stolen by car thieves and then recovered in London compared to any other region of the UK. 

Greater Manchester and the West Midlands have moved up to the second and third positions in the Tracker league table, moving Essex from its former second position down to fourth.

Numerous analyses and data reports have evidence that shows a new annual increase in thefts of keyless cars, making car theft crime rates at a 93% all-time high.

Tracker's regional analysis displays various other car crime hot spots, including Surrey, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, South and West Yorkshire and Kent. 

RAC Insurance has reported that in four years, vehicle-related theft has risen to the highest level, with more than 150,000 vans, cars and motorcycles stolen in 2018-19.

Why The Law Struggles To Prevent Car Theft In The UK?

There are numerous reasons why the UK law enforcement struggles when preventing car theft from happening to rightful owners; few professionals within the field have confirmed what many across the UK have suspected for several years.

Considered Unimportant

One of the most significant reasons they struggle is the lack of attention they give these cases; most officers may never publicly admit it, but they do not view vehicle theft as a high priority.

Considering the extent of the crimes committed in various areas, it makes sense that many vehicle theft police quickly close cases or push them lower in terms of importance; however, police should not ignore them completely.

Ultimately, car theft isn't taken as seriously as other crimes. Of course, there are many more other serious crimes; however, there is an array of reasons why.

Firstly, many police and those in the criminal justice field tend to have an incredibly extensive workload, which is to be expected. Their jobs involve investigating crime, catching criminals, gathering evidence, writing detailed crime reports and overseeing the community.

However, it seems there is a common 'pass the buck' culture that suggests multiple forms of theft are not thoroughly investigated or even further analysed. 

It's "Not Their Business"

Some officers in the industry do not view car theft as their business or an aspect of their job. Many feel that it is a problem for the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), which is why they either struggle to prevent it or, ultimately, don't do anything about it when it occurs.

On the other hand, it seems the police on the CID seldom deal with crimes such as car theft; it isn't one of their areas of concern.

Many within the CID believe that traffic control is responsible for all issues with cars. Such confusions between fields and departments make it difficult to assess who should care for these issues.

Why The Law Struggles To Prevent Car Theft In The UK?

To make progress, UK police in all areas must confirm who takes care of car theft problems so that individuals within their communities can achieve justice. Police liaison is imperative to improving the system.

It's Not Easy Finding Who Is Responsible

Another reason why the UK law struggles to prevent keyless car thefts is that those responsible behind the scenes are difficult to pin down. Officers often tell how more serious criminals orchestrating organised crime operations are incredibly hard to catch. 

Plenty of the time, cars will randomly disappear in the night, and those in charge at the top of the gang chain will rarely be the ones to get caught as they employ others to do the work for them—the ones ordering vehicles to be never stolen anyone's target.

Often you may read of operations such as the National Crime Agency targeting gangs across the UK. Early in November of 2020, a procedure in Essex meant that professionals recovered 16 cars costing approximately £3 million and £100,000 worth of cash.

However, such victories of these kinds are few and far between; it takes months and sometimes even years to build up profiles on bosses and gangs, as they are so difficult to catch and often protected by their followers.

In the meantime, plenty more crimes of the exact nature will occur. Typically, it is much easier to imprison those at the bottom of the food chain, committing the theft - which is still productive.

However, it would be more efficient to jail those orchestrating the crime to truly rid the community of vehicle theft crimes and perhaps solve the problem. 


Criminal Gangs

When a car gets stolen for an extended period, there is much less chance that the owner will get it back. It all depends on who they suspect is stealing the vehicles, for example organised criminal gangs.

These gangs can steal multiple cars over time and ship them across the country, other places within Europe or even abroad to Africa. They may even seek to break up the car's parts, like doors, catalytic converters, crook locks, wheels and wheel clamps, bonnets, etc., and sell them to potential buyers.

Car theft for these reasons is an aspect of organised crime gangs, which is a much bigger problem that detectives and police forces are trying to prevent; they want the most popular cars in good condition that drivers have taken care of so that they can resell on the black market, which is often why thieves steal them.

Some of the most stolen cars and models taken during car thefts may include Range Rovers, Land Rover Discovery, Ford Kugas, Nissan Qashqai, Mercedes Benz E-Class, Ford Transit, Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagens, VW Golf and many more. 

What Is The Actual Cost Of Vehicle Theft?

In the UK, it is said that car thieves steal a vehicle every nine minutes. According to sources such as the Association of British Insurers (ABI), this level of vehicle theft a year costs car insurers approximately £379 million. Most of which is accounted for in the investigation, the fallout and the security measures.

GoCompare states that vehicle thefts are one of the country's most significant contributors to insurance company premiums.

However, the insurance costs do not factor in the various associated prices that many Home Office reports referred to as the 'Economic and Social Costs of Crime.'

These reports often consider there to be three main costs for theft. The cost areas include:

Firstly, the costs in anticipation and potential prevention of various crimes, like insurance costs and defensive expenditure, such as CCTV cameras and equipment for monitoring, vehicle security systems, motion sensors, and other access control methods, alongside fire and burglar alarms. Many may invest in traditional visual deterrents to ward off thieves and criminals, alongside stolen vehicle tracking technology and relay attacks on keyless thefts.

Then they must consider the costs to cope with the consequences of the crime, for example, the costs covering any commonly stolen goods or severe property damage. 

Finally, they must consider the costs for responding and looking into the crime committed, such as the costs to the criminal justice system and the police.

After professionals garner a complete picture of the total vehicle crime costs, estimates suggest that £0.7 billion of vehicle theft costs affect individuals every year. The stats also imply that prices reach £0.3 billion for commercial vehicle theft every year. 

If you are concerned about vehicle security get in touch today. Our security experts offer ghost immobiliser fitting and other vehicle security systems for customers throughout Wirral and Liverpool.

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