Green light to steal cars: only 1 in 20 thefts result in a suspect being charged

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

  • Last year, an average of 272 cars were stolen every day, or one every five minutes.
  • Police managed to charge those involved in 13 of these daily cases on average
  • Figures show there were 99,541 car thefts reported to police in 2020-21

Only one in 20 car thefts lead to the thief being charged, shocking official figures reveal today.

They show that just 4.9% of the 100,000 vehicles stolen last year in England and Wales led to the arrest of a culprit.

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

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

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

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

In London, nearly 30,000 cars were stolen last year, but the Metropolitan Police were only able to charge the culprits for 737 offences, a rate of just 2.5%.

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

By contrast, Dyfed-Powys police solved almost 19% of cases, while officers in Cumbria charged suspects in more than 18% of car thefts.

In London, nearly 30,000 cars were stolen last year, but the Metropolitan Police were only able to charge the culprits for 737 offences, a rate of just 2.5%.

In London, nearly 30,000 cars were stolen last year, but the Metropolitan Police were only able to charge the culprits for 737 offences, a rate of just 2.5%.

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

Five years ago, the overall auto theft detection rate was just over 10%. Senior police officers blame organized crime gangs for numerous thefts, with high-value vehicles such as 4x4s and prestige brands stolen on order.

The figures back up anecdotal reports that in some areas police numbers are so extensive that car-related crime has been all but forgotten as forces prioritize offenses considered 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 motor Jaguar I-Pace. It was stolen twice but recovered both times in part with the help of a tracking system.

A spokesperson for the National Council of Police Chiefs said: “Vehicle theft is clearly linked to organized crime and police are devoting more resources to dealing with it.” It causes distress and anger, and we take it seriously. The police will pursue where there is evidence and we encourage people to report the crime as soon as it happens.

Jack Cousens of AA Insurance Services said: ‘Unfortunately there seems to be little the police can do if there is no forensic or video evidence. Resources are limited, so car crime ends up being shut down almost as soon as it opens.

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

The figures for the last six years relate to vehicle thefts to which is added the so-called “joyriding” offense of aggravated vehicle taking.

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