The number of vehicles stolen in the UK has risen by almost 50 per cent in the last five years.
New figures from the home office show that in the financial year 2017-18, a whopping 111,999 vehicles were stolen – up from 75,308 in the same period for 2013-14. That’s an increase of 48.7 per cent, and equates to a car being stolen every five minutes – or 300 per day.
The figures don’t specify exactly how the vehicles were stolen, but experts have suggested the cause for the increase is twofold – correlating to both a rise in the use of keyless entry technology and a plunge in the number of police officers on the road.
Cars with keyless entry are used in so-called ‘relay theft’ – where thieves use readily available relay boxes to boost the signal of a car’s key and use it to unlock the car. Many vehicles are vulnerable, with these systems often fitted as standard equipment to desirable, high-end luxury and sports cars and available optionally on more conventional machinery.
Meanwhile, police numbers are at their lowest since the 1980s – forces have reduced their officers by 15 per cent since 2006, accounting for a loss of over 20,000 personnel.
RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey spoke about the falling numbers: “From 2013 to 2018 we lost 5,975 police officers but looking further back to 2006 the story is even worse with 21,958 fewer officers which represents a 15 per cent reduction.
“Every vehicle stolen and not returned safely to its owner represents a cost that is borne by every motorist who lawfully pays their insurance. If the number of thefts could be reduced, then insurance premiums would undoubtedly be lower. Aside from this it is impossible to underestimate the impact on individuals and business who suffer from this type of crime.”
Thefts from a vehicle have also increased, with 280,032 incidents recorded in 2017-18 – up from 258,346 in 2016-17.
Drivers are recommended to take every precaution with their keyless cars. Keys should be kept away from doors and windows, and some forces are also recommending the use of signal-blocking ‘Faraday Pouches’.