Car thefts hotspots revealed: how to keep your motor safe

Updated on 21 June 2019 | 3 Comments

More than 300 cars are stolen every day across the UK. Here's where a motor is most and least likely to be stolen.

Car theft has been rising sharply across the UK with hundreds of cars stolen every day, according to new data from police forces across the UK.  

The figures, which were obtained by insurer Direct Line, showed car crime has soared 45% since 2014, having actually fallen for six straight years prior to that.

It means the total number of cars stolen per year throughout the UK hit a record 112,000 in 2018, working out to 307 motors pinched every single day.

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UK car theft hotspots

Direct Line then looked at its own database of car insurance claims to identify the UK's car theft hotspots by region. 

Greater London was first by some margin, with 33 theft claims per 10,000 registered vehicles. 

The North West was second with 17 thefts per 10,000, followed by the West Midlands (15), and Scotland.

While these stats show a snapshot, it's perhaps more instructive to look at how things have changed in recent years.

As you can see from the table below, it's the West Midlands that has seen by far the fastest increase in car crime, with Direct Line's stats showing claims have rocketed 214% between 2014 and 2018.

The North West and the North East have both seen claims more than double over that period while, at the other end of the scale, claims have actually fallen 23% in Scotland.

Region % change 2014-2018 Claims per 1,000 cars
West Midlands 214% 16
North West 110% 17
North East & Yorkshire 104% 5
Greater London 61% 33
East Midlands 60% 8
East of England 48% 7
South West 43% 4
South East 29% 4
Wales 29% 4
Northern Ireland 0% 1
Scotland -23% 10

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Direct Line, said: “With an alarming increase in the number of cars stolen over the last five years, it is more important than ever to do all we can to prevent cars from being stolen.

“Using a combination of measures such as parking in a well-lit area or through security features such as steering wheel locks, or by ensuring that the car alarm system is fully activated by double locking the vehicle could help make it as difficult as possible for a thief and may help buy time for the alarm to be raised in case a theft is in progress.”

Barret gave some advice on how best to prevent car theft.

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.

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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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