Only seven police forces managed to cut car thefts in 2018

    • Alex Buttle
    • 20th May 2019
    • Car thefts in City of London fall by a fifth (21%) in 2018 vs 2017
    • Five police forces in England and Wales have seen car thefts more than double in five years

    Staffordshire Police recorded the largest increase in car thefts of any police force in England and Wales last year, with crimes up by more than a third (38%) on 2017 figures, according to analysis of GOV.UK data by Motorway.

    The latest government data on recorded police crimes*, reveals that, alongside Staffordshire, four other police forces – Bedfordshire (27%), Thames Valley (27%), Surrey (22%) and Durham (20%) – saw car thefts rise by more than a fifth last year vs 2017.

    Only seven police forces in England and Wales recorded fewer car thefts in 2018 than the previous year, with the City of London (-22%), British Transport Police (-12%) and Wiltshire (-11%) all reporting double-digit cuts in thefts.

    Five police forces – British Transport Police (217%), Surrey (138%), Nottinghamshire (122%), Staffordshire (115%) and the West Midlands (114%) – have seen motor vehicle thefts more than double in the past five years.

    Four in ten car thefts in England and Wales during 2018 were reported by the Metropolitan Police (30,752) and West Midlands Police (11,140).

    The following table shows police forces recording largest rise and fall in car thefts in 2018.

    Police ForceNumber of car thefts in 2017Number of car thefts in 2018% rise in car thefts  2018 vs 2017
    Thames Valley2,5743,26526.8
    West Midlands9,38611,14018.7
    London,  City of7861-21.8
    British Transport Police464409-11.9
    Avon and Somerset2,476 2,352-5.0

    Alex Buttle, director of Motorway comments:

    “These troubling car crime figures suggest that over-stretched and under-resourced police forces are struggling to curb the rising number of car crimes, and in particular keyless car thefts.

    “Advancements in anti-theft systems do not seem to be discouraging thieves, who are using a variety of ever-more sophisticated techniques to break into and start cars.

    “The 21st century thief isn’t using a hammer to smash a window and hotwire a car. They’re armed with wireless transmitters, signal jammers and key programming devices, and can open car doors and start engines in seconds.

    “The police can only do so much, and there is a responsibility on drivers, particularly those with highly desirable prestige motors, to check they are not being watched, to keep their car keys in a safe place away from windows and front doors, and to consider fitting a tracking device as an added level of protection.”

    typing on keyboard
    Smashing a window is passé. Modern car thieves use signal jammers and electronic devices to steal cars.

    Notes to Editors

    Methodology analysed the latest Police recorded crime data on, updated on 25th April 2019, for 43 out of 44 police forces in England and Wales. Lancashire wasn’t included in the research due to the lack of a complete data set.

    N.B. Aggravated car thefts weren’t included in the research.