Car thefts hotspots revealed: how to keep your motor safe

Which postcodes see the highest rates of car thefts?

A vehicle is stolen in the UK every nine minutes.

That’s according to data from the DVLA, released following a Freedom of Information request from Rivervale Leasing, covering 2019. Overall more than 56,000 motors were taken by thieves over the year.

But motorists know that their vehicles are more at risk in some areas than others.

Now price comparison site MoneySuperMarket has crunched the numbers, analysing car insurance enquiries over the past year to calculate which locations across the country are the most and least likely to have seen car thefts over a five-year period.

And, for this writer at least, they make for pretty depressing reading.

The towns where you car is most at risk

Let’s start by looking at the areas with the highest theft rate according to the study.

Postcode area

Car theft (per 1,000 capita)

IG (Ilford and Barking)


RM (Romford)


B (Birmingham)


N (North London)


BR (Bromley)


SW (South West London)


HX (Halifax)


DY (Dudley)


E (East London)


SS (Southend on Sea)



It’s impossible to ignore that there are an awful lot of areas in Greater and central London in that list.

What’s more, the rate of thefts is particularly dramatic at the top of the list, with thefts in Ilford and Romford at almost twice the rate of Southend on Sea in tenth spot.

It makes particularly deflating reading for me too as I grew up in Ilford. It’s nice to see your hometown in the news generally, though not so much when it’s being named as the car crime hotspot of the nation.

It follows Ilford consistently being flagged up as one of the worst areas for identity theft too. Evidently it’s an excellent area for would-be criminals.

Of course, all of the areas in this list are pretty densely populated, meaning thieves have more options ‒ and quite frankly more opportunities ‒ to nick a car.

The towns with the lowest car theft rates

This is particularly relevant when you look at the other end of the table, with the postcode areas which boast the lowest car theft rates.

Postcode area

Car theft (per 1,000 capita)

KW (Kirkwell)


IV (Inverness)


PH (Perth)


TD (Galashiels)


DG (Dumfries and Galloway)


DD (Dundee)


DT (Dorchester)


PL (Plymouth)


IM (Isle of Man)


LD (Llandrindod Wells)



Kirkwall is found on the Orkney Islands, and isn’t exactly somewhere you’re likely to feel is overcrowded. Indeed the spread out nature of various areas of Scotland may be behind the fact there are so many Scottish postal areas on this list.

Nonetheless, the sheer difference in scale between the threat of thefts in those postcode areas in the first table and the second table is significant.

MoneySuperMarket also revealed that there can be big differences in terms of the age of drivers most likely to see their vehicles stolen.

Those aged 40-49 are deemed most at risk, with 8.6 thefts per 100 capita, compared to those aged 17-19 where it stands at a paltry 1.5.

As the site points out, this is most likely the result of older drivers possessing more desirable cars.

Tips on how 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 the 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 which 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 which is relatively populated can put thieves off of targeting your car.

This article has been updated.

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