Vehicle theft at ‘embarrassing’ levels

Automotive theft is costing motor insurers £1.5bn a year – and that figure is rising.

This is according to Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA) and based on new data it secured via a Freedom of Information request that revealed 101,198 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales in 2021.

CMA managing director Philip Swift said: “To really understand the situation, you need to factor in the increased values of vehicles; plummeting recovery rates; and the condition if found. It is way too simplistic to say car crime is down from 500,000 offences in the mid-1990s to 100,000 today so we’ve largely solved it.

“Back then the typical theft was an old Ford Escort worth less than £5,000. Now, we commonly see nearly new Range Rovers worth £100,000 stolen by professional criminals, and they’re seldom found.”

In fact, 72% of stolen vehicles are never recovered.

Swift said: “Our cost to insurers comparison indicates how the total cost of this crime has likely quadrupled from £360m in 2006 to £1.44bn in 2021.

“Another piece of the puzzle is the changing method of theft, with keyless technology and electronic security bypass frequently and thoughtlessly blamed. Indeed, some point to the fact that around half of recovered vehicles are undamaged nowadays, compared to just 15% a decade ago, as some sort of success. It isn’t. It’s a crumb of comfort at best.

“Unfortunately, the suspected method is often not recorded by constabularies now either. Again, lack of data is disguising the true, frankly embarrassing, scale of the UK’s vehicle crime problem.”