Nation’s car crime hot spots mapped - these are the regions with the worst car theft rates

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Police data reveals the worst places for car theft as well as the areas where drivers are safest from criminals

London has been revealed as the worst spot for car crime in England and Wales in a new study which names the regions with the highest and lowest rates of theft from and of vehicles.

The study used government data from the last five years to identify the areas with the most crimes per head of population, revealing that the drivers in the capital are far more likely to be a victim than anywhere else in the country.

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With a rate of 113 vehicle crimes per 10,000 people, London was far ahead of the West Midlands which, with 87 crimes per 10,000 people, was second on the list.

Greater Manchester (79.6), Bedfordshire (75.2) and South Yorkshire also featured high up on the list of car crime hot spots in the data compiled by USwitch.

JPI Media

The comparison service used figures from the Office of National Statistics covering thefts of vehicles and thefts from vehicles from March 2016 to March 2021 to find the police force areas with the worst records as well as those where drivers are least likely to be hit by criminals.

The figures show that overall vehicle crime in England and Wales fell by 8.7% over the five-year period - from 365,037 to 336,650 - but reveal significant geographical differences. Offences recorded by the Metropolitan Police actually increased 22% while reported crimes in North Wales fell 48% in the same period.

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Wales was home to two of the regions with the lowest vehicle crime rates, with the area covered by Dyfed-Powys Police experiencing 12.1 crimes per 10,000 people - the lowest of any force area. North Wales, with 15.2 crimes per 10,000 was ranked third, just behind Cumbria, where the crime rate was 14.1 per 10,000.

The research also dug into the where and when of car crime and found that most cars are targeted while parked outside the owner’s home, either on a driveway (39%) or on the street (27%).

Longer-term data also suggested that criminals are apparently becoming more brazen. Crimes committed during daylight accounted for 19% of offences in 2009-10 but 35% in 2019-20.

The analysis comes after police chiefs warned that vehicle crime was rising and blamed crooks exploiting keyless entry systems.

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Relay attacks, where criminals use transponders to intercept the signal from a key fob and fool the car’s systems into unlocking and starting the vehicle, are a growing problem as more modern cars come with the technology.

Last year the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) warned that keyless related thefts were increasing and urged drivers to protect themselves.

Thefts of catalytic converters from cars are also increasing as criminals look to cash in on the rising value of the precious metals contained in the components.

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