UK car theft hotspots revealed – is your region on the list?

The West Midlands is the UK’s top car theft hotspot outside London with nearly 12,000 cars stolen in 2023, analysis of new data has revealed.

Last year, a total of 11,865 cars were stolen in the West Midlands, which is equal to a theft rate of 401 cars per 100,000.

But while eye-watering, this figure still pales compared to the 18,624 vehicles stolen in Greater London. That’s a theft rate of a whopping 760 cars per 100,000 on the road.

The North West was some way back in third, with 6742 cars stolen in 2023, for a theft rate of half that of the West Midlands – and a mere fraction of the cars stolen in Greater London.

Yorkshire and the Humber (6357 recorded thefts), East of England (5761), South East (5578), East Midlands (2955) and Scotland (1891) were next on the list, followed by the South West (1790), North East (1724) and Wales (1448).

The lowest volume of thefts, according to data from vehicle history check specialists HPI, was in Northern Ireland, with just 244 thefts recorded. That’s a theft rate of just 23 cars per 100,000 on the road.

HPI also revealed that, despite high-profile thefts of Range Rovers within London, the most stolen vehicle in the capital is actually the Ford Fiesta, with 942 reported thefts - although that's likely down to the sheer number on the road.

Meanwhile, the Toyota RAV4 was the second most stolen vehicle – boasting, with 826 thefts from just 7009 on the road, a somewhat unenviable 12% theft rate.

In other words, there was more than a 1 in 10 chance of having a Toyota RAV4 stolen in the capital last year, according to HPI data.

"Police data shows that a car was stolen in Britain every eight minutes on average last year with car thefts up by almost 5% on the previous year." says HPI identification director Jon Clay.

HPI data identifies more than 100 cars every day flagged as stolen, he said, with high-tech criminals behind the rise.

"Advancing technology is increasingly being used by ruthless car thieves to overcome the security devices used by car manufacturers. The method of theft is also changing, with keyless car theft now the most common tactic used by organised criminals to stela the latest motors of all values."

He added so-called ‘turbo decoder theft’ is also becoming more common. This involves the targeting of manual door locks and works like a skeleton key.

As a turbo decoder turns, the spigots align to the shape of the empty keyhole and it reproduces the format of the key.

Worryingly, turbo decoders can be easily bought online because locksmiths legitimately use these to gain entry to cars, explains Clay.

Naturally, he recommends all used car buyers carry out an HPI Check – adding that they also revealed 2205 cars identified as write-offs, 1 in 3 with a hidden history and 1 in 3 cars on sale still having outstanding finance.

Ask HJ

Do police forces use information provided by car trackers?

Are trackers worth the money? Do police follow up tracker information?
A tracker can be an effective tool to prevent or mitigate the risks of vehicle theft, particularly if you own a vehicle that is at particular risk. Some insurance companies will offer discounted premiums if you use an approved tracking system, and should the worst happen it is usually much easier to recover the vehicle. Police forces do have the facility to use data provided by vehicle trackers, but how and when they are used may vary between constabularies, so if you are considering having one fitted it would be worth investigating if your local constabulary has an established relationship with particular tracking companies.
Answered by David Ross
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