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What’s going on with car crime in 2024?

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Will Kerr

As we hurtle toward the halfway point of 2024 (yep, really) let’s take a look at what’s going in terms of car crime – and how you can avoid being targeted. 

The TLDR version. 

Don’t want all the detail? Fair enough. The headline is that cars are being stolen more often, and recovered less often. The huge rise in keyless entry car crime is a big reason for this. So skip to the bottom and read the last section on protecting yourself

The overall picture for car crime in 2024.

car crime 2024.
Car windows – and car crime records – are both getting smashed.

The last update in crime statistics from the ONS was released recently (25th of April 2024 to be precise). It looks at data up to the year ending December 2023 – but gives a good indication of what’s going on now, by letting us know where the figure were at the start of the year and where trends were heading. (Bear in mind, that’s looking at data from England and Wales, not the whole of the UK). 

So, let’s start with the good news (because there’s plenty of bad to get through too). In the bigger picture, headline crime (which includes many major offences) has fallen by about a quarter in the last 7 years. 

Even better (given that we’re focusing on car crime here) part of the fall includes car related crime, which is down 2%. 

That’s good. But there’s a but. And it’s a big but. Huge actually.

The above fall is based on a drop in criminal damage to vehicles (like having your car keyed) which is down 25%, and theft from cars (for example, someone smashing a window to grab a bag off the seat) were also down 6%. The thing is, the type of car crime you’re going to be more worried about is the theft of vehicles. In the most recent data, car thefts are up 3%. That’s worse than it seems though…

The small increase seen in the new data comes on top of a much bigger one. The second last set of data released by the ONS (in January 2024) showed that in the year to September 2023, car theft was up by almost 50%.

Of course, just because someone steals a car, that doesn’t mean they won’t be caught, so we need to look at the outcomes of these cases too… 

More cars are being stolen. But do criminals get away with it?

arrests for car crime

Unfortunately, the answer is increasingly ‘yes’. We’ve written before about the fact that car crime convictions are very low. Since we put that piece together things haven’t improved. In 2023 the proportion of vehicle thefts that were solved was a shade above 3% – down more than a percentage point from 2020. 

That’s only the national average, though. Depending on where you are things might be a lot worse. In over a 100 neighbourhoods, no car thefts were solved at all

So, not only are more cars being stolen – less are being recovered (although we’re helping with that). 

What’s behind this worrying rise in car thefts?

There’s a number of factors. The economy has been in a tough place, and crime of all kinds generally goes up during downturns. The price of car parts has, in several cases, gone up way above inflation (due to supply chain disruption among other things). But perhaps the biggest reason is that cars are simply getting easier to steal. 

But how can that be? As designs improve, shouldn’t cars be getting more secure? Unfortunately, it’s not worked out that way. Keyless entry may be convenient, and it may feel sleek and futuristic – but it’s also been something of a godsend for thieves. It’s now estimated that as much as 94% of cars stolen are keyless entry

Am I at risk of car crime?

tesla-cars-keyless-key-fob-765x512-1

With car theft rising so dramatically, it’s fair to say that anyone could be at risk. However, given the above stats, you should be especially wary if:

  • Your car is keyless entry.
  • Your car is one of the most commonly stolen (see below). 
  • You own a van, or keep tools in it (thefts involving vans had been high recently). 
  • You live in or around one of the areas with high levels of car crime (see below). 

The most commonly stolen cars. 

In January of 2024, we found which were the most stolen cars in 2023. The list goes: 

  • Ford Fiesta.
  • Ford Focus.
  • VW Golf.
  • Mercedes C-Class.
  • Range Rover Sport.
  • Range Rover Evoque.
  • BMW 3 Series.
  • Vauxhall Corsa.
  • Vauxhall Astra.
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The areas with the highest rates of car crime.

According to info released by the DVLA in 2024, London, the Midlands and North West see more than their fair share of car crime. The top ten most affected areas are:

  • Solihull
  • Birmingham
  • Slough
  • Wolverhampton
  • Ilford 
  • Harlow
  • Sutton Coldfield 
  • Manchester
  • Coventry
  • Bristol

The takeaway? It’s more important than ever to protect your car.

What does this all mean? That you should be protecting your car. 

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