Counting the cost
The total cost of fixing the damage caused by vandals comes to around £1.9 billion a year - that’s an average of £661 per victim. And analysis of police data shows that costs increased by 9.5% between 2016 and 2017. Yet this doesn’t cover the full scale of the problem, because around a third of victims don’t even report the crime to the authorities. But even minor damage like a small scratch can cause the condition of a vehicle to deteriorate, resulting in a significant slump in re-sale value.
Who’s to blame?
It’s all too easy to blame the problem on kids with nothing better to do, but only a fifth of police cautions for car vandalism are issued to youths, and our research has revealed a wide range of potential culprits. Local disputes are believed to be the most common cause of vandalism attacks, with one in ten victims blaming disgruntled neighbours. And it seems car vandalism can also be a crime of passion, with 5% of victims accusing current or former partners, and another 5% blaming love rivals. While an increase in online “prank” videos is also blamed for many attacks.
Catching the culprits
Knowing who’s to blame for causing damage is one thing, but proving it is quite another, and prosecution rates for car vandalism fall behind many other offences. In fact, UK police forces shut over 60% of investigations into vehicle criminal damage without ever identifying a suspect. In cases where police manage to identify a suspect and gain a conviction, criminals face a fine of up to £2,500 or a maximum of three months’ imprisonment. Yet in practice, many simply receive a caution.
Not surprisingly, there are large regional disparities in the research results, with motorists in Plymouth shown to be most at risk - with more than a quarter of residents having suffered a car vandalism attack at some point. Of all the major towns and cities surveyed, Manchester, Liverpool and Norwich were shown to be the safest places to park your car.
City residents with the highest risk of their car being vandalised
|City||Percentage of adults whose car has been vandalised|
Source: Churchill Car Insurance 2017