In its review of Home Office performance, the NAO said: ‘Good progress has been made in working with the motor industry to bring about improvements in the security of vehicles.
‘These improvements are likely to be the main reason for the reduction in vehicle thefts.’
Figures from the Home Office showed that vehicle crime fell 17% in the third quarter of 2004, compared to the same period in 2003.
The British Crime Survey 2003/04 shows thefts of vehicles have dropped the most, down 13%, with theft from vehicles down 6% compared to the previous year.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive, Christopher Macgowan said: ‘The NAO findings are a tremendous endorsement of the work vehicle manufacturers have done to make new cars more secure.’
However, despite the fall, more than a quarter of a million vehicles were stolen and over a million and a quarter broken into in the UK last year – costing society over £2 billion, the RAC Foundation has claimed.
Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation said: ‘While these reductions in car crime are good news for motorists, the fact that most of the improvements are coming from manufacturer-fitted security simply means that criminals are turning their attention to opportunist crime and theft of and from older vehicles.’