Nearly a quarter of a million cars broken into in 2016

Press release -

Nearly a quarter of a million cars broken into in 2016

Nearly a quarter of a million vehicles were broken into in 2016, with 26 police forces – more than half of all those in England, Scotland and Wales – seeing more thefts from cars than the previous year, according to data seen by RAC Insurance*.

A total of 239,920 vehicle break-ins were reported to 42 police forces – 8,698 more than in 2015 (231,222), representing a 4% increase. However, this is a 9% reduction on 2013 when there were 263,574 thefts from vehicles.

Responses to a freedom of information request made by RAC Insurance reveal that the City of London constabulary saw the largest rise with a 76% increase (46 to 81). Northamptonshire experienced the second greatest rise with 41% (2,864 to 4,043). Wiltshire Police (1,680 to 2,074) and Dyfed-Powys (446 to 549) were joint third with a 23% increase.

Of the 15 forces that recorded reductions in thefts from vehicles from 2015 to 2016 Cheshire Constabulary saw the largest fall in such crimes with 19% fewer (2,827 to 2,284). Cumbria’s numbers for the offence went down by 11% (780 to 697) and North Wales Police’s by 10% (1,326 to 1,187).

Rank Police force 2013 thefts 2014 thefts 2015 thefts 2016 thefts % change 2015 to 2016
1 City of London Police 63 99 46 81 76%
2 Northamptonshire Police 3480 2803 2864 4043 41%
3 Wiltshire Police 2349 1842 1680 2074 23%
4 Dyfed-Powys Police 702 708 446 549 23%
5 Lancashire Constabulary 6187 5778 5440 6382 17%

Comparing the data from 2013 and 2016 the City of London also had the highest uplift in thefts from vehicles with an increase of 29% (63 to 81). West Midlands Police experienced a 21% rise (15,261 to 18,396) and Northamptonshire a 16% uplift (3,480 to 4,043).When looking at the largest reduction over the three-year period Cheshire topped the table again with a 45% drop (4,185 to 2,284). North Wales Police had the second biggest reduction on 33% (1,778 to 1,187) and Durham the third on 32% (2,687 to 1,840).

Rank Police force 2013 thefts 2014 thefts 2015 thefts 2016 thefts % change 2013 to 2016
1 City of London Police 63 99 46 81 29%
2 West Midlands Police 15261 15949 16563 18396 21%
3 Northamptonshire Police 3480 2803 2864 4043 16%
4 Cambridgeshire Constabulary 3326 2957 3318 3860 16%
5 Leicestershire Police 5511 5375 6697 6327 15%

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said: “Even though police data shows the number of thefts from vehicles has fallen by 9% in the three years from 2013, it is very worrying to see that more than half of British police forces have witnessed a rise in this type of crime from 2015 to 2016.

“Breaking into cars to steal things causes motorists no end of headaches. Not only do they lose and have to try to replace their valued possessions, most will have to make an insurance claim to get their car repaired. While this can be a time-consuming and stressful process in itself, its effects will unfortunately be felt for years to come with increased annual premiums and having to declare the claim for three years whenever arranging a new car insurance policy.

“A lot of people breaking into vehicles will be opportunist, with thieves looking for items that they can sell on easily. It’s also possible that drivers have become more complacent about what items they leave on display, perhaps believing items like satnavs are now so commonplace they’re not of interest to thieves. Some may believe the fact a vehicle is alarmed makes it safe, but unfortunately this is not the case as very few people respond to the sound of a car alarm, perhaps because so many seem to go off for no apparent reason which in itself can be a tactic used by thieves.

“And with lots of drivers using their smartphones as satnavs there is a higher probability of accidentally leaving a phone in a cradle and giving a thief a great opportunity to profit. The fact remains that every time a driver leaves a valuable item clearly on display they are running the risk of becoming a car crime victim. So the old advice of making sure nothing of value is left on display inside a car is still as valid as ever, but it is also important when parking in public places to try to opt for well-lit and well used spots so as to make it harder for criminals to break in without being seen.

“Anyone unlucky enough to suffer a vehicle break-in should report it to the police as soon as possible and obtain a crime reference number which will assist with the subsequent insurance claim.”

Drivers looking for advice on how to avoid being a victim of car crime can look at the RAC’s online guide.



Notes to Editors

A full data table is available as a download at the foot of this press release

* RAC Insurance made a freedom of information request to all 44 British police forces about thefts from vehicles from 2013 to 2016. Two forces –South Wales Police and Sussex Police did not provide any data. Two others – Gwent and Warwickshire – were only able to provide data for 2014 to 2016.

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