Just 6.7% of car thefts reported to the police result in anyone being charged.
Furthermore, 69% of cases are dropped because no suspect can be identified.

Data comes from NextBase after a Freedom of In formation request (FOI).

In all, 39 police forces responded revealing results between 2019 and 2022. Greater Manchester, Humberside, Staffordshire, and the West Midlands failed to respond to the FOI, which means the true scale of the UK’s car crime problem could be far higher.

Under 7% of the 396,000 reported car crimes (car thefts, thefts from a vehicle, and interference with a vehicle) resulted in anyone being charged.

Lost without trace

Just 6 per cent of cases of vehicle crime over the last four years has resulted in a conviction.

It means car theft victims are very unlikely to see their nicked motor or contents again as criminals appear to be successfully outfoxing enforcement. Often using new tactics, these include stealing motors via their keyless systems and stripping vehicles of their parts at the roadside.

With these types of vehicle crime on the rise, they are also contributing to the recent spike in motor premiums.

Nextbase claims that ‘a new generation of criminals are outwitting current vehicle protections’ and then getting away with it because police are unable to track them down.

The recent rise in vehicle thefts using relay attacks on keyless cars, as well as the failure to track down stolen motors and components, is thought to be partly driving the record rise in insurance premiums.

Premium prices

Rising costs for replacement parts and lack of availability is also one of the causes of skyrocketed motor cover, insurers have said.

The Association of British Insurers said in August that cover providers have seen claim payouts rise by around 15% to £2.4billion per quarter, which includes thefts, car repairs and personal injury.

However, a cross-section of Britain’s drivers polled in a survey said they could do more to protect their vehicles from thieves.

A survey of 2,000 UK motorists found that half (51%) rely only on an easily-disabled car alarm while just 16% have a steering lock.

Six per cent of the panel said they take no protective measures whatsoever.

Changing fashions

Vehicle hacking expert Dr Ken Tindell, chief technology officer at automotive security software company Canis Automotive Labs, says a simple car alarm no longer suffices to stop today’s thieves using sophisticated tactics.

‘The image many people have of car thieves breaking windows and hot-wiring cars is totally out of date,’ he warns.

‘With the latest theft techniques the criminal can relay the wireless messages from the driver’s key fob all the way to the car – telling it to unlock itself and deactivate its immobiliser.

‘Or they clone a key fob to tell the car that the thief is the legitimate driver.

‘These techniques can let the thief drive away in seconds, without raising any alarm, before a car owner would have any idea what was going on.’

Bryn Brooker, head of road safety at Nextbase, added: ‘Today’s car thieves are brazen and you can see why: Tottenham have better odds of winning the Premier League [14/1 according to Betfair on 4 October] than they do of being caught.

‘Despite their best efforts, police can’t solve many of these cases because in the vast majority of incidents there is simply no video evidence, making prosecution impossible.

‘The increasing sophistication of criminals and years of underfunding makes their job incredibly difficult. This led to there being no suspect identified in over two thirds of cases.’

Added security

A poll of 2,000 motorists by Nextbase reveals the lengths drivers take to protect their cars from thieves:

Car alarm: 51%

I always park where I can see my car: 25%

I keep my key fob far away from any windows or doors to stop it being cloned: 23%

Dash cam: 17%

Steering wheel lock: 16%

I do not take any measures to keep my car safe: 6%

Time for tech

Using recording devices to protect, deter and identify culprits of crime seems to be a growing fashion. The technology i becoming both cheaper, simpler to use and more discreet.

Recent reports have shown a considerable rise in the popularity of such tech.  People are having smart doorbells installed at their homes, dash cams in cars and cyclists and bikers using helmet cameras. These often provide evidence for low level crime and damage incidents, as well for more serious offences. It seems to be having a deterrent effect, with stats from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency show a reduction in these types of offences, down a third between 2021 and 2022.

Nextbase says the latest dashcam devices can help protect drivers from all these different types of crime as they record not only when a vehicle is on the move.

This will particularly help to curb the rise in car cannibalism reported in recent months.

This type of crime is becoming increasing prevalent, with 5% of respondents saying they had experienced theft of a car part in the last two years.

Post codes

Londoners are most at risk and twice as likely (10%) to have had a part stolen off their car than the wider country.

East Anglia is the safest area, where just 1% of drivers report having a component stripped from their vehicle.

By parking in well-lit areas, using steering wheel locks, and not leaving valuable items visible in the car, you can also reduce the risk of becoming victims of car crime.