Vehicle theft: The facts and figures

Vehicle-related theft now accounts for 1 in 7 reported crimes. Whilst 20 in 100 vehicle owning households had been victims of motor theft in 1993, this figure is now just 4 in 100, an 80% decrease. Even so, vehicle-related theft has risen 30% in the last three years and retailers report a drastic rise in the sale of traditional security devices, such as steering locks. It’s evident that theft is evolving, so what do recent figures tell us?

Who is the target?
Whilst thieves have historically operated opportunistically, recent stats illustrate that trends are now developing. Vehicle-owning households with children are more likely to be targeted than those without. Living in a detached house is likely to reduce the chances of being targeted as opposed to those living in a semi-detached or terraced house, a flat or maisonette. Those who own their own property as opposed to renting are also less likely to fall victim to theft.

Where do thieves operate?
Geographically, little seems to have changed. Metropolitan London, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands account for around 40% of all vehicle theft that occurred in England and Wales in the Office of National Statistics’ report. Unsurprisingly, more than 2 in 3 thefts occurred at the victim’s home, and around 4 in 5 occurred during the evening hours between 6pm and 6am.

How do thieves operate?
As modern vehicles come with high-tech security systems built in, more traditional theft methods such as physically forcing the lock are much rarer; from 1 in 3 in 2006 to 1 in 7 in 2016. Breaking or attempting to break the glass has also decreased from 1 in 2 in 2006 to 1 in 5 in 2016. Perhaps a rather concerning fact, however, is that 1 in 2 vehicle-related thefts now occur because the vehicle door is open or unlocked. This has soared from 1 in 8 in 2006. Perhaps we aren’t quite vigilant enough?

The Office of National Statistics suggest one of the reasons for the sharp rise in recent years could be due to the surge in motorcycle theft – these vehicles often being unprotected, without immobilisers and other security equipment. That being said, the simple fact that around 50% of vehicle-related theft occurs when doors are not closed and locked is a simple but costly mistake on the part of vehicle occupants and owners.  Taking basic precautions to protect your vehicle and personal effects is likely to reduce theft figures further. Remain vigilant; park in well-lit areas, use security devices and lock your doors to help ensure your motor won’t be next to go.

If you wish to discuss your motor insurance or the protection of your contents, contact the Chartered brokers at Hine on 0161 438 0000.

Andy Guy
Andy Guy

Hi there! I'm Andy, I'm the Head of Charity and Faith Insurance at Hine Insurance with over 30 years experience.

In my spare time, I'm a trustee of a church and I enjoy walking and getting to grips with the garden.

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