Car theft hotspots: the towns where cars are most likely to be stolen

Car theft hotspots: the towns where cars are most likely to be stolen

New stats reveal the areas where motorists are most likely to have their vehicles stolen.

John Fitzsimons

Motoring and Travel

John Fitzsimons
Updated on 3 November 2022

Romford in East London has been named the UK’s car theft capital.

A new study from MoneySuperMarket found that it had overtaken Ilford, a neighbouring town, to become the most likely place for motorists to report their car had been stolen.

The study is based on the millions of enquiries made on the price comparison site over the last year, which tracks the ratio of how many vehicles for each town were reported stolen compared to overall insurance enquiries for the area.

For Romford, 19.87 vehicles were reported stolen per 1,000 insurance enquiries made, up from 19.1 last year and enough to take top spot.

Here’s how the top 10 hotspots for car thefts shape up:


Thefts per 1,000 enquiries



Ilford and Barking














North London





As you can see, all of the top four are located within the capital. Perhaps unsurprisingly, MoneySuperMarket found that London is the least safe region for drivers overall, with a car theft rate of 11.55 per 1,000 enquiries.

This was followed by the West Midlands, at 10.94 per 1,000 enquiries, and the North West, with 7.31 per 1,000 enquiries.

What about the other end of the scale, where drivers are least likely to have had a motor stolen?

Here are the 10 areas with the lowest theft rate:


Thefts per 1,000 enquiries



Dumfries and Galloway


Llandrindod Wells

















Clearly, certain areas north of the border are tremendous when it comes to car safety, perhaps in part due to the remoteness.

If there aren’t lots of other people living in the region, then by extension there are going to be fewer people tempted to nick your wheels.

Interestingly, however, when looking at regions as a whole Northern Ireland was found to be the safest region overall, with a car theft rate of just 1.87 per 1,000.

Catching car thieves

But what happens after your motor is stolen, how likely are the police to catch the person responsible?

The number of car thieves being caught has fallen in recent years, official figures have found.

Nationally, only one in 20 car thefts actually results in someone being charged in court, but in some parts of the country, it's as low as one in 40.

According to new Home Office statistics, there were just under 100,000 car thefts reported during 2020-21, but there were only 4,863 cases of police catching the offender.

That means thieves were caught in just 4.9% of cases, whereas five years ago the figure was above 10%, the Daily Mail has reported.

Catching car thieves: regional variances 

As you might expect, the percentage of criminals being caught for stealing cars varies massively across the country.

In fact, if your car is stolen, you're more than eight times as likely to see someone charged for the crime in the best-performing area (Dyfed-Powys) compared to the worst (West Midlands).  

So let's take a closer look at some of these regional variances.

 Best-performing areas  Worst-performing areas
 Dyfed-Powys (18.6%)  West Midlands (2.4%)
 Cumbria (18.1%)  London (2.5%)
 North Yorkshire (13.8%)  Bedfordshire (3%)

The rise in keyless car thefts

One important trend in car crime over the last few years has been the jump in cars that can be operated without a key. 

Thieves have been able to make the most of sophisticated gadgets which allow them to hijack the car’s signal, remotely fooling it into unlocking the doors and starting the engine.

According to data from Tracker, this accounted for an incredible 93% of all of its recorded thefts last year.

Tips to prevent car theft

Always keep the vehicle locked

It sounds obvious, but nowadays cars have smoother locking systems that sometimes make it harder to hear if the car locks.

It is advised that you always double-check that the car is actually locked before walking away. Also always ensure that the vehicle’s engine isn’t running when it’s unattended.

Invest in the right technology

Despite modern cars always having alarms and immobilisers fitted already, investing in additional features can massively help in preventing car theft. Inexpensive yet effective examples are steering wheel, pedal and gear locks.

Keep your keys safe

Making sure the keys to your car are safe is the most obvious yet most effective way of preventing car theft. Make sure they are safely stowed and not easily seen.

Block signals

While some cars make it possible for you to switch your key off, there are ways you can do this without having a fancy manufacturer. For example, you can invest in a ‘faraday pouch’.

This is a cage that shields the contents from static electric fields. These are available from many retail outlets.


Simple being wary of where you park your car can often make a huge difference. If you don’t have a driveway or private garage, then making sure you park in a well-lit area that is relatively populated can put thieves off of targeting your car.

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*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

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