New research by the RAC indicates that vehicle thefts in the UK are on the rise again. Despite a gradual fall over the preceding decade, car thefts jumped by 30% in the three years to the end of 2016. In real terms, this reflects just under 86,000 thefts of new and used cars in 2016, according to numbers provided by 40 police forces in the UK.
Cars are increasingly fitted with new and improved safety and anti-theft features such as immobilisers and deadlocks, with the motor trade investing billions in researching new and better ways to protect vehicles. However, some attribute thieves improving their own technology and researching ways to beat these systems as a reason for the hike in car crimes. Consequently, there’s been a rise in the numbers of motorists employing more “old fashioned” deterrents, such as steering wheel locking devices, in a bid to counteract the more sophisticated criminals.
Of course, one of the major consequences of a rise in thefts will inevitably be a hike in insurance policy costs, especially for vehicles particularly identified as at risk or with lower levels of security in place. Location of course plays a large part in any analysis of the figures, with London and the big cities seeing the most number of thefts. Unsurprisingly, London topped the list by number of reported thefts, with 26,496 in 2016. However, the most startling figures have come from Warwickshire, the county seeing an incredible 189% jump in the number of cars stolen between 2013 and 2016. The West Midlands has seen the biggest regional increases, with a rise of 43% in the three years, while neighbouring Leicestershire has seen 50% more reported thefts in the same period. There was better news for more rural areas such as Gloucestershire and Derbyshire, where thefts have declined by around 10% since 2013.
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The figures are still much lower than the staggering 300,000 car thefts that took place in 2002, with improved security and better vehicle tracking a clear benefit to the motorist, but the recent upward trend will still spark alarm in the industry and motorists alike. With the motor trade showing remarkable progress in the past few years in terms of healthy new car sales, a buoyant used car market, the emergence of hybrid and electric vehicles and rapid innovation, this recent news will come as an unwelcome negative point heading into one of the main periods of the year for new purchases.