Autocar And Reform Reveal Britain's Car Crime Hotspots

Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield are the car crime capitals of England and Wales, according to a report published last week.

The report, by independent think-tank Reform and published in detail this week in Autocar, is based on police figures for 2005 obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Ranked top out of 57 cities, Nottingham suffered 40 car crimes per 1000 residents, while Ashford in Kent saw only nine crimes per 1000.

Calling cities population centres of over 100,000, Reform analysed police reports of stolen vehicles and car break-ins. A spokesman said: "There were 400,089 thefts of and from cars in the cities surveyed, which was 54 per cent of all offences, despite the cities holding only 36 per cent of the population."

Autocar's car security expert, Ron Cliff, wasn't surprised: "Car crime is mostly a small part of bigger crime such as drugs, which are on the up in cities." The Home Office poured cold water on the figures, saying: "This is a simplified analysis and the fact is that car crime is decreasing." Theft rates of vehicles have fallen since the peak in 1995, when 502,280 cars were stolen. Thanks to standard security kit, the numbers have halved in 10 years to 230,729.

Top Tips

Don't leave things on display when you've parked your car. Take valuable items out of the vehicle altogether, and if you have a removable panel on your stereo, take it with you.

Always lock your car - when you're stationary in traffic, you're returning a trolley at the supermarket or paying for petrol. Many thefts are committed by opportunists at traffic lights, garages and in car parks.

Consider visible anti-theft measures like steering wheel locks; they might make your car less of an easy target.

Most kerbside thefts are committed by breaking a side window, so invest in security glass, which can be up to ten times more difficult to breach.

If you use in-car gadgets like an iPod, a satellite navigation system or a speed camera detector, try to mount them in an inconspicuous place.

Always try to park in a well-lit spot, and remember that the quietest street isn't always the safest. If you can park under the gaze of a CCTV camera, then do so.

Never leave your car key in the car when you're not in the driver's seat; if your ignition is keyless, always keep the key on your person.

Check what your insurance policy covers; you might find that it doesn't cover you against loss of items like laptops or other in-car electronics, or that it doesn't cover you at all unless you park off-street.

If you drive something particularly rare or expensive, consider getting a satellite or radio tracking system fitted; it'll boost the chances of recovery massively.

Finally, when you get home, keep your car keys in a safe, or a locked drawer; most car thefts today happen with the keys.

31 May 2006 Staff

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