Just 1 in 20 car thefts lead to a suspect being charged

Green light to steal cars: Just 1 in 20 thefts lead to a suspect being charged… and it’s 1 in 40 for London, shocking figures reveal

  • Last year an average of 272 cars were stolen every day – one every five minutes
  • Police managed to charge those involved in 13 of those daily cases on average 
  • Figures show that there were 99,541 car thefts reported to police in 2020-21
  • Only one in 20 car thefts leads to the thief being charged, shocking official figures reveal today.

    They show just 4.9 per cent of the 100,000 vehicles stolen last year in England and Wales led to a culprit being apprehended.

    In some major cities the record was even worse, with the proportion of car thieves charged as low as one in 40.

    Only one in 20 car thefts leads to the thief being charged, shocking official figures reveal today. They show just 4.9 per cent of the 100,000 vehicles stolen last year in England and Wales led to a culprit being apprehended

    Only one in 20 car thefts leads to the thief being charged, shocking official figures reveal today. They show just 4.9 per cent of the 100,000 vehicles stolen last year in England and Wales led to a culprit being apprehended

    Last year an average of 272 cars were stolen every day – one every five minutes.

    But police managed to track down and charge those involved in only 13 of those daily cases on average.

    In London, almost 30,000 cars were stolen last year but the Metropolitan Police were only able to charge culprits in connection with 737 offences – a rate of just 2.5 per cent. 

    West Midlands Police, which covers Birmingham, had a similar detection rate of just 2.4 per cent.

    In contrast, Dyfed-Powys Police solved almost 19 per cent of cases, while officers in Cumbria charged suspects over 18 per cent of car thefts.

    In London, almost 30,000 cars were stolen last year but the Metropolitan Police were only able to charge culprits in connection with 737 offences – a rate of just 2.5 per cent

    In London, almost 30,000 cars were stolen last year but the Metropolitan Police were only able to charge culprits in connection with 737 offences – a rate of just 2.5 per cent

    Home Office statistics show there were 99,541 car thefts reported to police in 2020-21, slightly down on the previous 12 months due to the pandemic. But officers managed to track down offenders in only 4,863 cases.

    Five years ago, the overall detection rate for car thefts was just over 10 per cent. Senior police officers blame organised crime gangs for many thefts, with high-value vehicles such as 4x4s and prestige marques stolen to order.

    The figures back up anecdotal reports that in some areas police numbers are so stretched that car crime has been almost forgotten as forces prioritise offences seen as more serious.

    Last year TV presenter Giles Coren complained that the Met Police did not have the officers to investigate the theft of his new £65,000 electric-powered Jaguar I-Pace. It was stolen twice but recovered both times partly due to the help of a tracker system.

    A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: ‘Vehicle theft is clearly linked to organised crime and police are putting more resources into tackling it. It causes distress and upset, and we do take it seriously. Police will prosecute where there is evidence and we encourage people to report crime as soon as it occurs.’

    Jack Cousens, of AA Insurance Services, said: ‘Sadly it seems there is little the police can do if there is no forensic evidence or video. There are limited resources so car crime ends up being closed almost as soon as it opens.’

    He advised parking in a garage if possible, buying a Faraday pouch for keyless car fobs so thieves can’t intercept the signal, and using a tracking device or crock lock.

    The figures for the last six years relate to theft of vehicles plus the so-called ‘joyriding’ offence of aggravated vehicle taking.

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