Official Government figures show sharp increase in car theft in 2017 amid concern keyless theft is becoming “standard practice”
Car theft rates in England and Wales rose by 56 per cent last year according to the latest data from Office of National Statistics (ONS). Some 89,000 vehicles were stolen in 2017, up from 56,000 the previous year, and the worst year on record since 2012.
The growing issue of keyless theft – where criminals use so-call relay devices to trick cars into thinking the legitimate key is nearby – is thought to be partly responsible for the increase in car thefts.
Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of roads policy said: “Car thieves have clearly shunned the old- fashioned opportunistic tactics of smash and grab. High-tech techniques like relay theft are becoming standard practice for thieves.”
This seems to be backed up by ONS data, which shows almost half of all recorded thefts involved criminals entering vehicles through an unlocked door, up from just 13 per cent in 2006. Incidents involving thieves attempting to force car doors decreased from 31 per cent to 14 per cent in the decade since 2006. Out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales, 41 experienced an increase in car crime.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the car crime figures are robust, because: “The CSEW [Crime Survey for England and Wales] increase in vehicle-related theft is supported by police recorded crime figures, which are thought to be fairly well recorded for this crime type. This, the ONS says, suggests: “That the increase seen in police recorded crime reflects a genuine increase in this type of crime.”
Attempted vehicle thefts were also up, rising from 153,000 in 2016 to 196,000 last year, while incidents of items being stolen from cars went up from 796,000 in 2016 to 929,000 last year – a 17 per cent increase. The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by 16 per cent since 2009.