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Car thefts rise 45% in five years

Reported car thefts have risen 45% in the last five years, with the West Midlands seeing the sharpest rise.

Keyless theft

A car was stolen every five minutes in the UK in the 2017/18 financial year

The data from Direct Line Car shows that across the UK, 112,174 vehicles were stolen in the 2017/18 financial year alone, which translates into 307 cars stolen every day – one every five minutes. This compares to just over 77,000 in 2013/14.

According to the analysis of crime data published by police forces of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the increase in car theft over the last five years is being fuelled by thefts in England. The West Midlands, the North West and the North East & Yorkshire have all seen the volume of car theft claims more than double since 2014. Meanwhile, the volume of car theft claims in Scotland fell by 23% and in Northern Ireland they remained at the same level.

Change in volume of car theft claims, 2014 to 2018:

Region Change in volume of car theft claims Car theft claims per 10,000 registered vehicles
West Midlands +214% 16
North West +110% 17
North East & Yorkshire +104% 5
Greater London +61% 33
East Midlands +60% 8
East of England +48% 7
South West +43% 4
South East +29% 4
Wales +29% 4
Northern Ireland 0% 1
Scotland -23% 10
United Kingdom +63% 11

Source: Direct Line Car Insurance 2019

While the data shows the West Midlands saw a threefold increase in car theft claims compared to 2014, making it the fastest-growing region for car theft, London remains the car crime capital of the UK based on volume alone, with around 33 cars stolen for every 10,000 registered on the road.

Looking at the time of day that owners are most likely to realise their vehicle has been stolen, early morning comes out top with nearly half (49%) occurring between midnight and 9am, and 23 per cent between 6am and 9am. This is largely due to owners leaving home to commute to work. By comparison, only 19%of crimes are reported between 6pm and midnight.

Cars are also slightly more likely to be stolen on a weekday than at weekends, with 7% more crimes reported from Monday to Friday than on Saturday or Sunday.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.