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The Worst Place In The UK For Vehicle Crime

  • London had the highest number of recorded vehicle offences, with 109,995 instances.
  • Central locking was the most commonly targeted security measure (93%).
  • 78% of those who experienced any vehicle-related theft said they were emotionally affected.
  • 39% of all reported vehicle-related crimes occurred on a residential street.

For many of us, our car is our pride and joy. From sunset drives to singalongs with loved ones and even those late-night drive-thru treats, our cars get us from A to B and anything in between.

Some people love their cars so much that they spend big money to make them an extension of their personality. Some even opt to work in their cars, using them to make a living on the road!

But as much as we treasure our cars, we can’t always guarantee their safety all of the time.

Unfortunately, people target vehicles for theft, vandalism, and other crimes. Whether that’s people stealing from the glovebox, damaging the expensive exterior, or even stealing the vehicle itself!

And the experience is incredibly stressful, but car insurance can make the experience smoother.

However, having your car taken from you or damaged beyond repair can be an expensive ordeal that often leaves people feeling stranded. Valuables taken from your vehicle can be difficult to replace, and no one wants to see their pride and joy being ruined by another person.

But for car lovers across the UK, where is the safest place to park your wheels, and where might you want to add to your security precautions?

We wanted to find out, so we dug deep into the data. Analysing statistics from the Office of National Statistics, we found the UK cities with the most vehicle-related crimes.

The top ten locations with the highest and lowest amount of crime can now be revealed, ranging from theft from the vehicle to damage to the property and items being taken from the car.

The data showed us that in 2020, there were 359,407 vehicle offences in England, and in Wales, there were 11,871. Our analysis also revealed that these statistics are unfortunately up by 21% compared to 2019’s figures.

However, it’s not just the overall figures we’re interested in.

Looking deeper into the data, we can reveal the locations in the UK that experienced the highest number of vehicle crimes in 2020.

Location 2020 % increase from 2019 to 2020
London 109,995 14%
South East 45,489 25%
North West 41,408 25%
West Midlands 39,401 18%
East 33,388 23%
Yorkshire 31,576 28%
East Midlands 24,502 28%
South West 20,990 18%
North East 12,658 19%
Wales 10,949 22%

London had the highest number of recorded vehicle offences, with 109,995 instances, 153 of which were in the City of London. These figures were up by 14% compared to 2019.

The South East followed with 45,489 vehicle offences reported in 2020, a 25% increase since 2019. The residents of Thames Valley were the worst affected by these crimes, as they reported 14,860 of the total offences. However, Surrey saw just 5,935 instances of vehicle crime.

The third most affected region by vehicle crime in 2020 is the North West. The region recorded 41,408 instances of vehicle crime, with Greater Manchester experiencing 24,352 of these crimes. Cumbria, however, had just 832 reports. Overall, these figures have increased by 25% since 2019.

The West Midlands saw an 18% increase in reports since 2019, and the East followed with 23%. These regions are the most affected by vehicle crime, with 39,401 and 33,388 reports being made, respectively.

Details of the crime

To better understand when these crimes have occurred, we analysed data provided by the ONS, detailing these instances across England and Wales from April 2019 to March 2020.

The majority of vehicle-related thefts took place in the evening and at night (between 6 pm and 6 am), with 66% occurring at this time. Weekday offences were the most common, with 76% taking place Monday through Friday.

Similar statistics are found when looking at when a car is stolen, and valuables are taken from the vehicle.

39% of all reported vehicle-related crimes occurred on a residential street, while the least amount occurred on a workplace road (1%).

However, theft of the actual vehicle occurred more often on a semi-private residential road (41%).

If you want to protect your car as much as possible, ensure that your doors are always locked. Our analysis highlighted that the most popular method of break-in was using unlocked doors, with 44% of all vehicle-related crimes reporting it.

This was followed by an offender breaking through the window (18%) and manipulating the signal with a remote locking device (14%).

However, for offenders looking to steal the car, the remote locking device was the most common method of gaining entry, with 36%.

Of course, security precautions taken on vehicles can prevent offenders from compromising their safety; however, that doesn’t always stop offenders.

Across all vehicle-related thefts, central locking was the most commonly targeted security measure (93%).

Car alarms (69%) and immobilisers (64%) followed this.

Surprisingly, newer models were not as much of a target as you may expect, as vehicles under a year old made up just 4% of stolen cars.

The most commonly stolen car was reported to be between 1 and 5 years old, as they made up 37% of all thefts.

Many people do not expect the car to be returned to them once an offender has it. However, our data analysis showed that 28% of vehicles were returned to their owners once recovered.

Despite this, 48% of vehicles stolen were damaged, and 30% were reported to be damaged beyond repair and written off.

46% of this damage was recorded to cost the owner between £100-£499, however 21% cost a more manageable £50 or less.

But when an offender isn’t trying to steal the car itself, what items are most often stolen from inside the vehicle?

The data revealed that 39% of items stolen were made of ‘valuables’. This includes jewellery, handbags, cash and cards, clothes, and documents.

If you’ve added some external decoration to your vehicle, be aware that 19% of items stolen were exterior fittings. Other items stolen include electrical equipment (13%) and tools (10%).

These thefts come at a high cost, too, as just under a third of these items were worth between £100 and £499.

Car owners have to deal with more than just the financial impact, though. The emotional repercussions of being the victim of a crime can have a lasting impact.

78% of those who experienced any vehicle-related theft said they were emotionally affected, and just over half said they felt angry.

Others reported a loss of confidence, a sense of vulnerability (13%), and anxiety (6%).