According to new figures, a car is stolen every five minutes in the UK, with the number of thefts increasing by almost 50% in the last five years.
Data from police forces across the UK revealed a 45% rise in reported thefts since 2014, before which there had been a six-year decline.
The figures were gathered by insurer Direct Line, who then cross-referenced them with its own claims data to identify the UK’s car theft hot spots.
Their research shows that it is largely English regions driving this increase, with the West Midlands experiencing the sharpest rise at 214% (or 16 car claims per 10,000 registered vehicles). Birmingham also has four postcodes in the top ten of highest vehicle claims: B31, B90, B62 and B13.
Yorkshire and the North West also saw rates double from 2014 to 2018, seeing changes of 104% and 110%, respectively.
However, London remains the worst spot for car thefts in the UK, as though there has only been a 61% rise there in the last four years, there are still 33 claims for every 10,000 registered vehicles. Five London postcodes also appear in the top ten for the highest number of vehicle claims over the past five years: E4 (Chingford), E6 (East Ham), E17 (Walthamstow), E11 (Leytonstone and Wanstead) and IG1 (Ilford).
Wales and the South East both have the lowest amount of change of all the areas surveyed, with a 29% increase in car theft and 4 claims per 10,000 registered vehicles.
In fact, the only region to experience a fall in car theft was Scotland, where there was a 23% decrease and just 10 claims per 10,000 registered vehicles. Northern Ireland’s figures have remained the same.
There is, of course, a variety of reasons behind this widespread rise in car theft, but it’s been speculated that one reason could be more people choosing cars with keyless entry that are vulnerable to so-called relay attacks (a subject we’ve talked about before [link to this article if poss.]
Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Direct Line, commented: “With an alarming increase in the number of cars stolen over the last five years it is more important than ever to do all we can to prevent cars from being stolen.
“Using a combination of measures such as parking in a well-lit area or through security features such as steering wheel locks, or by ensuring that the car alarm system is fully activated by double locking the vehicle could help make it as difficult as possible for a thief and may help buy time for the alarm to be raised in case a theft is in progress.”
Here are some more tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of car theft:
1. Keep the vehicle locked –Modern cars’ smoother locking mechanisms can make it difficult to hear if the car locks. Double-check that it is locked before leaving your vehicle, even if you’ll just be gone for a short time. Never leave the vehicle running when it’s unattended, and keep it locked when parked outside your home.
2. Invest in the right technology –alarms and immobilisers often come as standard – however, theives’ technology is advancing almost as fast as the manufacturers’.
However, thieves’ technology is advancing in line with that of manufacturers’, and its always better to be over prepared.
Steering wheel, pedal and gear locks are inexpensive, easy to install and off-putting to criminals, while tracking devices or CCTV systems fitted near your car can help track down your vehicle and the perpetrator should it be taken.
3. Keep your keys safe– The easiest way for a criminal to steal a car is by taking the keys, so always ensure you store your keys out of sight of doors or windows.
4. Block signals– Some manufacturers make it possible to switch your key off. If this is not possible for your car, invest in a ‘Faraday Pouch’.
This shields your key from static electric fields, distributing the electric charges around the outside of the cage and protecting the items within. They are relatively inexpensive and available from many shops.
5. Park smart– If you don’t have the luxury of a private garage or off-street parking, try to park in a well-lit, populated area whenever possible.
Thieves will always target vehicles left in hidden areas, so parking in side roads or areas away from street lights could put your vehicle at risk.
Looking at the time of day that owners are most likely to realise their vehicle has been stolen, early morning comes out top with nearly half (49%) occurring between midnight and 9am, and 23% between 6am and 9am.
This is largely due to owners leaving home to commute to work. By comparison, only 19% of crimes are reported between 6pm and midnight.
Cars are also slightly more likely to be stolen on a weekday than at weekends, with 7% more crimes reported from Monday to Friday than on Saturday or Sunday.