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Vehicle thefts increase by almost 50% in five years

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New figures from the Home Office show an alarming increase in vehicle thefts, up almost 50% in the past five years.

In the financial year 2013-14, the figures reveal that some 75,308 vehicles were stolen, but by 2017-18 that had risen to 111,999 – the equivalent of one vehicle being stolen every five minutes or 300 a day.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey does not believe the figures are going to get much better any time soon either. “The current financial year has also not started well, with nearly 60,000 vehicle thefts already recorded up to the end of last September.

“They also paint a very depressing picture of a society where it is all too easy for gangs of thieves to break in and steal vehicles, and where there are fewer police officers to catch them and bring them to justice.”

From 2013 to 2018, Godfrey says that there were 5,975 fewer police officers, but looking further back to 2006 the story is even worse, with 21,958 fewer officers – a 15% reduction.

He continued: “Every vehicle stolen and not returned safely to its owner represents a cost that is borne by every motorist who lawfully pays their insurance.

“If the number of thefts could be reduced, then insurance premiums would undoubtedly be lower. Aside from this it is impossible to underestimate the impact on individuals and business who suffer from this type of crime.”

The Home Office figures also show that thefts from vehicles have increased, with 258,346 such incidents being recorded in 2016-17, a figure that increased by 8.4%, to 280,032 in 2017-18.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “Industry works closely with the Home Office, police authorities and other agencies to share intelligence in the fight against vehicle crime and fully supports this initiative as part of intensive efforts to stay one step ahead of the criminals. 

"Manufacturers are investing billions of pounds on an ongoing basis to tackle the problem, with security features such as sophisticated immobilisers, tracking devices and encrypted key codes, as well as regular software updates to help protect vehicles throughout their lives.”

The publication of the Home Office figures comes after the policing minister, Nick Hurd, announced a new taskforce to tackle vehicle theft.

The taskforce replicates the successful model used to reduce moped-related crime in London, which fell by a third in the period from January to October 2018 compared with the same period in 2017 last year.

It will drive forward action to reduce and prevent vehicle crime and promote best practice.

The taskforce will meet every six months and publish an action plan with new measures.

It includes representatives from: the National Police Chiefs’ Council; the SMMT; Thatcham Research; Retail Motor Industry; Motorcycle Industry Association; and the Association of British Insurers.

Chairing the first meeting, Hurd said: “We are determined to take swift and decisive action on emerging crime threats. With rates of vehicle theft increasing, I am keen to ensure everything is being done to prevent these crimes.

“Drawing together the police, industry and Government proved to be a successful way to see what more could be done to support police efforts to tackle moped crime and I’m eager to see the results of applying a similar model to vehicle theft.

“I’m confident the taskforce will significantly strengthen our response to vehicle theft.”

The taskforce intends to improve vehicle security standards across the industry ensure robust measures are in place to prevent criminals exploiting the motor salvage process and review whether further measures are required to stop devices that may be used to commit vehicle theft falling into criminals’ hands.

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  • Darren - 25/01/2019 11:10

    As well as there being less police, I think one other issue needs to be considered. Modern keyless cars can be stolen with relative ease. There are now many videos on the internet of cars being stolen using what appears to be two tablet PCs. One captures the wireless key code from within the house, the other seems to repeat it to the car. The car unlocks and starts using this duplicated code. There needs to be some education for car owners to help them see that they can protect their keys by placing them in a Faraday bag. These block the signal from the key, and thus prevent these kinds of car thefts.

  • maria.cole_spoortech.com - 25/01/2019 12:15

    This doesnt suprise me at all. Lack of Police contributes to the rise in crime throught our homeland. Police attendance used to be a deterrant, however now in this day and age, when you report a crime, the first thing they ask you on the phone is "are you insured". Then they tell you there is nothing they can do for you because 1) they dont have the resources and 2) your covered and you wont be going without!. There's no personal service anymore, not enough resources to provide the service that we all deserve and we all pay for! Anyway, that aside, it would help if all vehicles were trackered or were offered black boxes that include trackers when we renew our insurance. If you drive like you should, then you shouldnt have a problem with having a black box no matter what age you are. Insurance companies could then offer cheaper insurance to sensible, claim free drivers and higher premiums to those who refuse to have a black box. This would help locate stolen vehicles if we had the resources to quickly deal with the matter. Beating our heads against a brick wall i'm afraid. We can only live in hope that our government at some point comes to their senses and realises what is important for UK residents. Thank you and have a lovely day people. x

  • Hugh Hatrick - 25/01/2019 14:58

    Tougher penalties might help! Not giving out 3 years or a community order! They should get 20 years regardless with no parole and made to work positively so that they can give something decent back to society.

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