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London remains car crime capital as thefts rise

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Car theft has risen 45 per cent over the past five years, with 307 cars stolen every day.

New analysis of crime data published by police forces of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by Direct Line Car Insurance found that the rise in car theft over the last five years had been preceded by a six-year decline Between 2008/09 and 2013/14 the number of cars stolen fell by 48 per cent, from 150,000 to just over 77,000. This number has again risen to over 112,000 on 2017/18.

The West Midlands, the North West and the North East & Yorkshire are hotspots, having seen the volume of car theft claims more than double since 2014. In Scotland, however, car theft claims in Scotland dropped 23 per cent.

The West Midlands saw a threefold increase in car theft claims compared to 2014, making it the fastest-growing region for car theft. The worst spot was the B postcode area, covering Birmingham and parts of the surrounding areas, which accounted for one in eleven (nine per cent) of all claims.

London remains the car crime capital of the UK based on the total number of thefts with around 33 cars stolen for every 10,000 registered on the road. Five London postcodes have proved particularly vulnerable: E4 (Chingford), E6 (East Ham), E17 (Walthamstow), E11 (Leytonstone and Wanstead) and IG1 (Ilford).

Birmingham has four postcodes in the top ten (B31, B90, B62 and B13), while Manchester has one – the M20 area – although it experienced the highest number of car theft claims in the UK over the five-year period.

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Direct Line, commented: “With an alarming increase in the number of cars stolen over the last five years it is more important than ever to do all we can to prevent cars from being stolen. Using a combination of measures such as parking in a well-lit area or through security features such as steering wheel locks, or by ensuring that the car alarm system is fully activated by double locking the vehicle could help make it as difficult as possible for a thief and may help buy time for the alarm to be raised in case a theft is in progress.”

Top tips to prevent car theft – Steve Barrett

Keep the vehicle locked – Modern cars’ smoother locking mechanisms can make it difficult to hear if the car locks. Double-check that it is locked before leaving your vehicle, even if you are just ducking away for a few minutes. Never leave the vehicle running when you are not with it, and ensure the car is locked when parked outside your home. 

Invest in the right technology – Most modern cars are fitted with alarms and immobilisers as standard. However, thieves’ technology is advancing in line with that of manufacturers’, and a “belt and braces” approach to car safety could make the difference when deterring potential thieves. Steering wheel, pedal and gear locks are inexpensive, easy to install and off-putting to criminals, while tracking devices or CCTV systems fitted near your car can help track down your vehicle and the perpetrator should it be taken.

Keep your keys safe – The easiest way for a criminal to steal a car is by taking the keys, so always ensure you store your keys out of sight of doors or windows.

Block signals – Some manufacturers make it possible to switch your key off. If this is not possible for your car, invest in a ‘Faraday Pouch’. The pouch, often referred to as a cage, shields its contents from static electric fields, distributing the electric charges around the cage’s exterior protecting items within. They are relatively inexpensive and available from many retail outlets.

Park smart – If you don’t have the luxury of a private garage or off-street parking, do try to park in a well-lit, populated area whenever possible. Thieves will always target vehicles left in areas where they have little chance of being seen, so parking in side roads or areas away from street lights could put your vehicle at risk.

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