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16 UK Car Theft Statistics You Should Know

Having your car stolen or experiencing any vehicle-related theft can be deeply stressful and upsetting. As vehicle thefts continue to accelerate, with upwards of 100,000 cars stolen in the UK in 2021, car crime is not slowing down any time soon in the UK.

According to car theft statistics, factors like location and car model make you more susceptible to car crime. But regardless of this, all vehicles are still at risk of being targeted by car thieves.

To help you take the necessary precautions in securing your vehicle, we’ve put together the most important statistics on car crime in the UK.

General car theft statistics

1. In 2021, 101,198 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales (Fleet News & Auto Express)

England and Wales saw 101,198 vehicles stolen across them in 2021, up by 26,429 in 2020. Of the 101,198 vehicles stolen across the two countries, only roughly 28% were recovered, with insurers paying out an estimated £1.44 billion.

What’s more, vehicle thefts are costing insurers nearly £1.5 billion annually as recovery rates have plummeted in England and Wales.

2. Vehicle theft dropped by 27.13% during the first year of the pandemic (Uswitch)

Between March 2020 (as lockdown began) and March 2021, there was a sizeable reduction in vehicle thefts (-27.13%) all over the UK during the first year of the pandemic. A total of over 100,000 fewer vehicle thefts and crimes were recorded.

3. Car theft rates spiked significantly (35%) at the end of lockdown restrictions (National World)

New data from the leading stolen vehicle recovery firm, Tracker, showed that there was a 32% spike in theft between January and June of 2021, just as lockdown restrictions were relaxed. The firm said it recovered more than £4.2 million worth of vehicles in the first half of 2021.

4. Vehicles with keyless entry and start systems are the most targeted for vehicle theft (Mirror )

Keyless cars top the list for most stolen cars across the UK, with around 93% of all stolen vehicles in 2020 being taken without vehicle keys.

Additionally, data shows that relay attacks are now the single most common means of stealing a car in England and Wales, with 36% of thefts in 2019 and 2020 involving relay attacks.

5. Only 1 in 20 vehicle thefts are charged (Daily Mail)

Shocking figures showed that only one in 20 car thefts in the UK leads to a charge being laid. Of the 100,000+ vehicles stolen in England and Wales last year, only 4.9% of culprits were apprehended.

Meanwhile in London (the largest hotspot for vehicle theft), the proportion of vehicle thieves charged is as low as one in 40.

6. Vehicle crime in England and Wales drops 8.7% in 5 years (Uswitch)

From 2015 to 2021, national vehicle crime rates decreased by 8.7% from 365,037 to 336,650. This could be due to people staying home and not driving in the last two years of the pandemic.

7. Handbags and wallets are the most commonly pinched items from cars (Goodwood)

Valuables like handbags and wallets are the most common items stolen from a car, coming in at 39%. Following this are exterior car fittings at 19%, electrical equipment at 13%, tools at 10%, and other vehicle parts, including catalytic converters, at 8%.

8. Fewer than half of all stolen vehicles have been recovered over the last 10 years in the UK (RAC Foundation)

Between 2009 and 2018, a total of 522,214 vehicles were reported stolen across the UK, yet only 236,636 were recovered (45% recovery rate).

Most stolen vehicles in the UK

9. The Ford Fiesta is the most stolen car in the UK (What Car?)

At the top of the list of most stolen cars is the Ford Fiesta, with 3,909 cases reported. However, the Ford Fiesta being the most stolen car in the UK comes as no surprise. It has been the UK’s best-selling vehicle and most popular for many years, with millions driving them on UK roads today.

10. Range Rover and Land Rovers are the most stolen car models in the UK ( & What Car?)

Following the Ford Fiesta in the list of most frequently stolen vehicles in the UK is the Range Rover with 3,754 cases reported.

According to Tracker, Land Rover and Range Rover account for 44% of all stolen vehicles recovered by the firm in 2021.

11. High-value vehicles are among the most frequently stolen vehicles (The Scotsman)

As motor vehicle theft grows, high-value and prestige models such as the BMW’s X5 and 5 Series, the Land Rover Discovery, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and GLC continue to grow in popularity among car thieves.

12. Vans are among the top three most stolen vehicles (Commercial Fleet)

In 2019 and 2020, vans made up the top three positions for motor vehicle thefts. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 313 CDI is the most common stolen car model with 1,169 vans stolen in 2020. Second is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 314 CDI with 860 vans stolen in 2020. And lastly, the Ford Transit 350 was the third most stolen van in 2020 with 756 vans stolen.

Car theft hotspots – when & where?

13. London is the UK’s worst spot for vehicle thefts, with 68 vehicles stolen every day (GoShorty & Express)

According to new research, London is the worst region in the UK for car crime and theft, with the highest motor vehicle theft rate or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle of 277.55 offences per 100,000 people.

London also takes the top spot for theft from a vehicle anywhere in the UK, with 687.51 offences recorded per 100,000 people.

The two other areas with rates above 200 for vehicle theft were South Yorkshire with 222.95 offences and Great Manchester with 217.18 offences per 100,000 people.

14. The majority of motor vehicle thefts occur on the street (Shropshire Star)

Due to data reporting that 76% of thefts occur on the street, it is advisable that you use a parking garage if you have access to it. Moreover, 80% of motor vehicle theft happens at night.

15. Car thefts have increased by 256% in London since 2016 (The Sunday Times)

Besides the capital city being the top hotspot for vehicle thefts across the UK, it has also experienced the most significant spike in car crimes. By 2020, London experienced a rise of 256% in vehicle thefts since 2016, while Birmingham, Nottingham, and Greater Manchester saw 100% increases.

16. 63% of motor vehicle thefts occur on weekdays (Total Loss Gap)

Motor vehicle theft is shown to be a more common occurrence between monday and friday, with 63% of them taking place during weekdays.


What cars are stolen the most in the UK?

The Ford Fiesta is the top car model stolen in the UK, followed by the Range Rover, Ford Focus, and Volkswagen Golf.

How do you prevent car theft?

Here are some tips to ensure you don’t fall victim to car crime:

What is keyless car theft?

Keyless car theft, also known as ‘relay attacks’, occurs when a signal-blocking device is used to fool the car into registering that the car’s remote key fob is close by. Thieves can unlock the car locks and start the ignition in a matter of 20-30 seconds.

What do I do if my vehicle is stolen?

First and foremost, you should contact your local police station and insurance company immediately. The police will notify the DVLA of the theft details and any vehicle recovery on your behalf.

Insure your vehicle with GoShorty

As car theft continues in the UK, protecting you and your vehicle is more important than ever. The worst thing possible is becoming a victim of car theft with no insurance, more specifically when someone else is driving your car or you’re in between annual policies.

Temporary car insurance ensures you’re completely covered, even if you only need short term car insurance. With GoShorty, you can find the temporary vehicle insurance you need, whether that’s temporary van insurance or learner driver insurance.

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