23 May 2022
Analysis of statistics released from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) by AA Insurance Services show a substantial hike vehicle theft increased by 24.9%* in 2022 compared to the previous year. Similarly, theft from vehicles rose by 9.9% and residential burglary increased by 2.9%.
Across England in Wales in 2021, 104,435 had their vehicles stolen compared to 130,389 last year. For the same period (2022) 212,900 people had items stolen out of their vehicle compared to 193,647 the year before. Devon and Cornwall Police were unable to supply figures to the ONS, so the true figure is likely to be higher.
The worrying rise in theft of personal property highlights concerns from the AA regarding police priorities when it comes to tackling car crime and the increasing use of technology by thieves to target victims.
Car crime goes hi-tech
When it comes to taking cars, thieves are keeping pace with manufacturers by using a variety of hi-tech methods to steal them. Relay theft, key cloning and signal blocking continue to be the main methods of illegally obtaining vehicles.
However, as manufacturers improve key security and encourage drivers to put keys to sleep to reduce these types of theft, criminals are using new advanced practices to attack vehicle security systems.
When it comes to taking things from cars, faster and more traditional methods are adopted such as smashing windows or forcing windows and doors open are adopted to gain phones, wallets, and other valuable possessions.
AA Insurance Services are reminding drivers not to store valuables in their vehicles if possible, or at the very least advising drivers to keep items hidden away. Visible deterrents such as using a steering wheel lock plays a crucial role in keeping thieves at bay, deterring criminals because these devices cannot be overcome by the technology now being used by gangs to steal cars.
Although nothing is fool proof, this deterrent is likely to make the thief move on to the next unprotected car.
“Don’t give miscreants an easy win, make them think about finding an easier target than your pride and joy.”.Hiding valuables at home
In 2022, 191,094 people had items stolen from their homes compared to 185,683 in 2021. As items such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and jewellery remain the main targets for criminals they are also keen to add other easy to sell items to their swag bags. Bikes, lawn mowers, barbecues, pizza ovens and games consoles are all highly prized by thieves.
The rise of doorbell cameras is helping identify and spot criminal activity, but where possible households should consider additional security measures such as alarm systems. As a minimum, high value possessions should be hidden away if possible or marked with covert markings such as SmartWater.
Gus Park, managing director for AA Insurance Services, said: “The rise in vehicle and residential thefts are worrying for everyone and highlights that security of both car and home are vitally important.
“These figures are in danger of getting out of control, which if left to spiral further will have big cost implications in terms of the impact to wider society let alone the price policy holders pay. We urge Police Chiefs and Crime Commissioners across the country to create an action plan to crack the case.
“Unfortunately, there is no one thing that can guarantee keeping your car safe from theft, but just making it a bit harder for the thieves can make it less likely that they’ll go for your car. Don’t give miscreants an easy win, make them think about finding an easier target than your pride and joy.
“When it comes to protecting your home, making sure high value possessions are recorded on your home insurance policy is key. Consideration should also be made regarding where items are hidden when not in use, especially car keys. Additional security measures such as doorbell cameras and alarm systems*** are well worth investing in to upgrade your home.”
* ONS Crime Statistics can be found here: Crime in England and Wales: Appendix tables - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
** Car crime | AA (theaa.com)
*** Tips to help keep your home safe and secure | AA Insurance (theaa.com)