Vehicle theft surge ‘no surprise’

Specialist motor insurance loss adjuster Claims Management & Adjusting has said that the recently reported eight per cent rise in vehicle thefts is not a surprise as the crime is too often neglected by authorities.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics vehicle theft increased from 122,423 in the year to September 2022, to 132,489 in the year to September 2023.

Catherine Grant, lead analyst at the ONS, said: “The crime survey is showing a decline in fraud compared with the previous year. However, police recorded crime is showing notable increases in some theft offences, including shoplifting. There has also been an increase in the theft of motor vehicles, which is shown in both survey and police recorded crime data.”

Philip Swift, technical director at CMA, said: “It gives me no pleasure to say it, but the only unexpected thing about these figures is that the increase isn’t higher. We have waved the white flag on vehicle theft and can only hope that these awful new government figures prompt some urgently needed action.

“We enjoyed historically low levels of vehicle thefts in England and Wales for a while. Car manufacturers did an amazing job improving security, largely designing out opportunist thefts. Then, theft numbers began creeping back up, as organised criminals took advantage of high vehicle values and a seeming inattention to the crime. Today, post-pandemic, the picture is getting substantially worse year-on-year.

“In this context, our recent findings regarding the Vehicle Theft Taskforce (VTT) are even more damning. By 2019, car theft numbers were well over 100,000 a year again. The Home Office established the VTT, which was attended by representatives from the Home Office and the Department for Transport, motor and insurance industry groups, They noted the recent rises in vehicle theft, provided a detailed overview of the threat, proposed an action plan, and agreed to meet every six months.

“Just one problem: that 2019 meeting was the only time the VTT ever met, and it appears nothing replaced it.

“Five years later, the number of vehicle thefts has soared and the successful recovery rate has plummeted to 23% or less (down from 80% in 2006) – a car vanishing act indicative of organised crime. Crooks now consider car theft an easy win – highly lucrative with a low risk of capture, and lenient sentencing even if caught. Re-establishing the VTT and funding it properly would be a big step in the right direction.”