A Decade of Car Crimes Investigated

We’ve taken a look through 10 years worth of data sets, including those from the Office of National Statistics’ Crime Survey and the Government’s Road Casualties Report, to identify the biggest car-related crimes over the last 10 years. From 2010 to 2020* there were a whopping 6,940,716 car-related crimes. From vehicle thefts to crimes committed behind the wheel, which type of car-related crime happens the most?

Let’s find out!

Only a 4% Increase in All Car Related Crime in the Last Decade

Between 2010 and 2019, the number of court proceedings for motoring offences increased by just 4% in England and Wales, despite more and more cars being on the road. This is according to the Government’s latest criminal justice system report. Back in 2010, there were 681,594 total proceedings for all vehicle offences, ranging from speeding to causing death by dangerous driving.

2019 Had The Highest Number of Car Crimes Overall

In terms of the yearly trends, we were on an alarming stream of increases year on year until the restrictions of 2020 brought things back into line. Since 2013, when the overall total of proceedings for motor vehicle crimes was at 570,481, there was a steady increase each year:

Will 2021 see a return to those monumental figures or is our ‘new way of living’ going to bring a reduction in vehicle related crimes overall?

47% of all Motoring Crimes in the Last Decade were for Speeding or Insurance Offences

As a measure of the scale, almost half of all car crimes in the last decade were either speeding or insurance-related. Combined, they make up 47% of all offences, with 1,588,684 prosecutions for speeding and 1,429,518 vehicle insurance offences.

Other crimes that were on the higher end include vehicle registration and excise licence offences and failing to supply the correct ID for the driver, with an average of 98,132 and 82,969 cases respectively over the last ten years. 

Speeding Offences Increased By 57% in the Last Decade

Although the vast majority of motor vehicle crimes have fallen when comparing the data back in 2010 to that of 2019, proceedings for speeding have increased by 57%, jumping from 127,600 in 2010 to 200,513 in 2019.

Car Theft Prosecutions Down by 58%

Car theft is probably one of the car crimes that most easily springs to mind, but it just missed out on our top 10 as it has been steadily decreasing over the last decade, by 58%.  It’s also of major concern to car owners so we investigated where, when and how these car thefts have occurred between 2010-2020.*

These alarming stats are cause for concern.

  • 36% of Car Thefts are when Cars are Parked on the Street
  • Around 76% of vehicle-related theft in England and Wales in the last 10 years has been committed in the dark, as opposed to just 21% in the daylight and 3% at dawn/dusk.
  • 39% of car theft occurs when the car is parked on a street, with only 2% if the car is on private premises.
  • 41% of car thefts were due to failure to lock a door
  • 25% of thefts occur when an offender breaks or tries to break the window.
  •  ‘Relay theft’ sees an attacker intercepting the radio signal from your car’s key fob and relaying it to an accomplice who can then use it to open your car door.
  • 80% of all vehicles stolen and recovered were taken without using the owner’s keys, though this number does also include events such as breaking in through the windows.
  • 16% of crimes were from the offender opening the lock with brute force.
  • Valuables Make Up 24% of All Items Stolen From Cars

Only 39% of Stolen Vehicles Are Returned To Their Owners

If your car is unfortunately stolen, it’s sad to say that the majority of vehicles are not returned to their owners and are lost for good, at around a 61% rate, with only 39% successfully being returned to their owners. If you are lucky enough to get your car back after it has been stolen, the chances are it will be damaged in some way. Data from the last 10 years suggests that 69% of returned vehicles are damaged, with 21% either written off or completely damaged beyond repair. The other 22% have lesser damage, and should be alright to return to the road once they are repaired.

Over the last 10 years, the average cost of damage in incidents of theft of and from vehicles is £350. An unlucky 7% of us face repairs costing between £1000 and £4999, with less than 1% costing between £5000 and £9999, which is an eye-watering sum for those involved.

Emerging Trends: Electric Vehicle Crimes

Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular, with nearly 260,000 on the roads in the UK at the end of May 2021, with more than 535,000 if you also include plug-in hybrids. With the rise in EVs though has also seen the emergence of crimes targeting electric vehicle owners. As more charging ports are popping up, so are thieves that are looking to steal charging cables.

This is Money report that thieves have begun targeting the leads that are used to replenish the batteries of electric cars. This is due to the fact that the copper metals inside the cables are worth around £200 each, so criminals are looking to make some quick money.

The AA has launched specialist insurance for EVs that covers the following top concerns of electric car owners:

  • 1. Accidental damage, fire or theft of the car and personal cables when connected to a public chargepoint – 69%
  • 2. Damage to the main drive battery – 65%
  • 3. Accidental damage, fire or theft of the car and personal cables when connected to a homecharger – 65%
  • 4. Damage to the charging cable – 48%
  • 5. Protection if someone trips over the charging cable – 44%

With this rise in a new form of crime, we may see some more interesting crime data trends emerge in the next few years, as the production and sales of EVs is going from strength to strength.

Tips to Keep Your Car Safe From Theft

  1. Don’t keep valuables in the car.
  2. Keep your vehicle locked every time you leave it.
  3. Park in a driveway or garage if you have one.
  4. Choose your spot well in public car parks.
  5. Increase security measures.
  6. Never keep your car running while you jump out for a quick errand.
  7. Get your windows etched.
  8. Invest in a dash cam.
  9. Ensure your Electric Vehicle cables are stored in a safe place.

There are plenty of steps you can take to try and keep your car safe from being stolen, from simple things like making sure the vehicle is locked every time you leave it to investing in security measures such as cameras outside your home and dash cams for when your car is parked out and about.

Of course, there is no way to be 100% certain that a crime won’t occur, but following these tips will vastly reduce your chances of being a victim for either theft or criminal damage to your vehicle.

*For some of the data we only included 2010-2019 as 2020 stats were skewed by the pandemic.

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