According to police data, the number of car thefts declined steadily each year between 2008 and 2014, falling by almost a half in just six years – perhaps as a result of improved security on new models. But it appears that in 2014, car thieves caught up with the new anti-theft technology, because since then the number of thefts has begun to rise, and rise. In fact, by the end of 2018 the number of cars stolen off UK streets had reached 112,000 in one year – that’s an average of one vehicle stolen every 4 minutes and 41 seconds.
Regional hot spots
Not surprisingly, there are some large variations in car theft statistics across different regions of the UK. And Scotland actually bucks the trend, with a 23% fall over the same period, compared to a 63% increase across the rest of the UK. The three regions where the increase in theft has been sharpest are the North West, the North East and Yorkshire, and the West Midlands – where motorists have suffered a staggering 214% increase in car thefts in just four years. Yet despite the sharp spike in car crime, the figures in these regions still lag way behind the rates in London, where there are 33 car theft claims each year per 10,000 registered vehicles – that’s more than double the rate in the West Midlands.
Change in the number of car theft claims, 2014 to 2018
|Region||Change in volume of car theft claims||Car theft claims per 10,000 registered vehicles|
|North East & Yorkshire||+104%||5|
|East of England||+48%||7|
How to keep your car safe
- Always double-lock your car to ensure entry is secured and the alarm activated.
- It’s not unknown for thieves to steal car keys through letterboxes – so store keys out of reach and out of sight.
- Criminals are becoming more sophisticated, which means old-school security like steering locks and handbrake locks can foil tech savvy thieves.
- If you own a prestige car that’s likely to attract the attention of professional criminals, consider installing driveway parking posts.
- If your car has keyless entry, then you could be at risk of relay theft – that’s when thieves boost the signal between your key fob and your car, tricking your vehicle into opening up. So consider investing in a Faraday Box – a metal-lined container that blocks signals from the key fob.