There’s only a one in 20 chance of car thieves being caught by the police.
That is the shocking revelation from a new report that has found that just 6 per cent of cases of vehicle crime over the last four years has resulted in a conviction.
It means car theft victims are very unlikely to see their pinched motor again as criminals appear to be successfully outfoxing enforcement after using new tactics, including stealing motors via their keyless systems and stripping vehicles of their parts at the roadside.
With these types of vehicle crime on the rise, they are also contributing to the recent spike in motor premiums.
Had your car stolen or stripped of parts by thieves? Fury for victims as new police data shows hardly any criminals are caught and convicted
The new data has been uncovered by dash cam manufacturer, Nextbase, which claims that ‘a new generation of criminals are outwitting current vehicle protections’ and then getting away with it because police are unable to track them down.
Figures attained from 39 UK forces via a freedom of information request showed that between 2019 and 2022 just 6.7 per cent of 396,000 reported car crimes resulted in someone being charged.
The near-400,000 crimes include motor thefts, items being pinched from inside cars and ‘interference’ with a vehicle, which includes victims of ‘car cannibals’ who are stripping motors of their parts at the roadside to sell for spares.
Incredibly, the investigation found that in more than two thirds (69 per cent) of cases reported to the police, officers were unable to identify a suspect.
In 69% of the near 400,000 vehicle crime cases investigated by police between 2019 and 2022, not a single suspect is identified by officers, the shocking new report has found
The recent rise in vehicle thefts using relay attacks on keyless cars, as well as the failure to track down stolen motors and components, is thought to be partly driving the record rise in insurance premiums.
Rising costs for replacement parts and lack of availability is also one of the causes of skyrocketed motor cover, insurers have said.
The Association of British Insurers said in August that cover providers have seen claim payouts rise by around 15 per cent to £2.4billion per quarter, which includes thefts, car repairs and personal injury.
However, a cross-section of Britain’s drivers polled in a survey said they could do more to protect their vehicles from thieves.
A survey of 2,000 UK motorists found that half (51 per cent) rely only on an easily-disabled car alarm while just 16 per cent have a steering lock.
Six per cent of the panel said they take no protective measures whatsoever.
Vehicle hacking expert Dr Ken Tindell, chief technology officer at automotive security software company Canis Automotive Labs, says a simple car alarm no longer suffices to stop today’s thieves using sophisticated tactics.
‘The image many people have of car thieves breaking windows and hot-wiring cars is totally out of date,’ he warns.
‘With the latest theft techniques the criminal can relay the wireless messages from the driver’s key fob all the way to the car – telling it to unlock itself and deactivate its immobilizer.
‘Or they clone a key fob to tell the car that the thief is the legitimate driver.
‘These techniques can let the thief drive away in seconds, without raising any alarm, before a car owner would have any idea what was going on.’
Bryn Brooker, head of road safety at Nextbase, added: ‘Today’s car thieves are brazen and you can see why: Tottenham have better odds of winning the Premier League [14/1 according to Betfair on 4 October] than they do of being caught.
‘Despite their best efforts, police can’t solve many of these cases because in the vast majority of incidents there is simply no video evidence, making prosecution impossible.
‘The increasing sophistication of criminals and years of underfunding makes their job incredibly difficult. This led to there being no suspect identified in over two thirds of cases.’
Nextbase says dash cams that trigger a warning notification to an owner’s smartphone if it detects someone tampering with their vehicle could soon ‘make stealing a car unviable’
Can dash cams really cut car crime?
Surprise, surprise, a dash cam manufacturer says one of the best ways to protect your car from thieves is using one of its devices.
However, there is already the suggestion that domestic surveillance cameras are helping to cut down on some forms of vehicle crime.
A report earlier this year said that the rise in popularity of video doorbells may be driving a dramatic decline in the number of cases of drivers fleeing the scene of a crime.
This generally occurs when motorists involved in collisions make off before police and emergency services arrive at the scene.
But cases also include minor incidents, such as small prangs and clipping wing mirrors, that often cost victims money to repair if the perpetrator fails to leave their details.
And this is believed to be a result of the rise in people having smart doorbells installed at their homes, dash cams in cars and helmet cameras used by cyclists and motorbike riders.
Stats from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency show that cases of this offence fell by a third between 2021 and 2022.
There has been a recent jump in cases of car cannibals striking. These thieves strip parts of parked vehicles at the roadside and in car parks to sell for spares
Nextbase says its latest devices can help protect drivers from all these different types of crime as they record not only when a vehicle is on the move.
This will particularly help to curb the rise in car cannibalism reported in recent months.
This type of crime is becoming increasing prevalent, with 5 per cent of respondents saying they had experienced theft of a car part in the last two years.
The study found that Londoners are most at risk and twice as likely (10 per cent) to have had a part stolen off their car than the wider country while East Anglia is the safest area, where just 1 per cent of drivers reporting having a component stripped from their vehicle.
Nextbase’s new iQ range of ‘smart’ dash cams should help tackle this.
Like a video doorbell, they send a notification to an owner’s smartphone if someone tries to break in, bumps your car while it’s parked or tries to strip it of parts at the roadside.
Footage taken is immediately backed up online to provide a record of who gets into the vehicle or near it, providing a view both inside and outside the car and to help track its location if it is stolen.
‘This is the first time this kind of technology has made it to dash cams, allowing anybody to protect their vehicle with the kind of security homes have recently gained,’ Brooker says.
‘Eventually this kind of technology will make stealing a car unviable.
‘For now, it will help police track down more of these criminals and stop these thefts from happening in the first place.’
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