Almost a quarter of a million cars were broken into according to new figures, with more than half of all police forces in England, Scotland and Wales reporting an increase in thefts from cars over the previous year.
Data from 42 of the 44 forces approached under a Freedom of Information request revealed that a total of 239,920 vehicles break-ins were reported in 2016 (stats for 2017 are not yet available) – 8,698, or four per cent, more than in 2015. While 26 forces saw an increase in offences only 15 recorded a reduction. City of London police reported the sharpest rise – 76 per cent – although the Square Mile’s total of 81 break-ins was still tiny compared with other force areas.
Northamptonshire Police reported the second highest increase from 2,864 crimes to 4,043 – a 41 per cent rise – while Wiltshire Police (1,680 to 2,074) and Dyfed-Powys (446 to 549) were joint third with a 23 per cent increase.
For sheer number of offences the Metropolitan Police area recorded 51,691 – a three per cent rise over the previous year. At the opposite end of the scale Cheshire Police saw a 19 per cent drop in the number of reported break-ins, with Cumbria and North Wales seeing 11 and 10 per cent drops respectively. RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said: “Even though police data shows the number of thefts from vehicles has fallen by nine per cent 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.
“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.”