West sees slow rise in theft of vehicles
THE theft of motor vehicles in the West hasn’t risen quite as fast as elsewhere in the country over the past four years, new figures show.
Some 152,541 vehicles were stolen in Britain in 2018/19 compared with 97,609 in 2014/15, according to police data obtained by RAC Insurance.
That equates to a 56 per cent rise – in the West it has risen by 51 per cent. All but three of Britain’s police forces that responded to Freedom of Information requests recorded an increase in thefts over the period.
The largest rises in terms of vehicle numbers were in the force areas of Kent (up 12,550 to 40,726), Metropolitan Police (up 9,635 to 30,773) and West Midlands (up 5,677 to 10,372).
Six forces saw thefts more than double, including Suffolk (from 347 to 945), Surrey (from 661 to 1,543) and Greater Manchester (from 3,018 to 6,223).
Only Lincolnshire, the City of London and Police Scotland recorded a reduction.
In the West thefts rose in Avon and Somerset by 47 per cent (1,574 to 2,316), Devon and Cornwall by 45 per cent (580 to 839), Dorset by 72 per cent (501 to 864), West Mercia by 62 per cent (857 to 1,389) and Wiltshire by 31 per cent (430 to 563).
Gloucestershire did not provide figures.
RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures paint a rather disturbing picture. Vehicle thefts are on the rise almost everywhere, and in some parts of the country numbers are rocketing.
“It’s also not the case that the rises in crime are confined to a few larger urban areas, with many police forces covering more rural areas also seeing big increases.
“While vehicle crime is at far lower levels today than it was in the early 1990s thanks to improvements in vehicle security, and the number of vehicles licensed to be driven on the UK’s roads is higher than at any point in the past, it’s still concerning that so many more vehicles are being stolen than just a few years ago.”
He believes the increase is partly due to a rise in thefts of vehicles that are easier to steal, such as motorbikes and mopeds which are less likely to have immobilisers.
Government data shows that thieves use a key in nearly half of incidents, indicating that many drivers can do more to protect their vehicles.
Mr Williams went on: “While organised criminal gangs are responsible for a large proportion of crime, thieves will also be opportunistic in nature so the more a driver can do to make their car a less likely target the better.”