More than 150,000 motor vehicles were stolen in Great Britain in the year 2018-19, 10,000 more than the year before and a 56% (54,932) increase compared to four years earlier, according to data analysed by RAC Insurance.
All but three of the police forces that responded to a Freedom of Information request recorded an increase in the numbers of vehicles stolen in their force areas from 2014-15 and 2018-19, with some stark differences across the country. The largest increases in terms of vehicle numbers were in the Kent Police (up 12,550 to 40,726 thefts in 2018-19, a 45% increase), Metropolitan Police (up 9,635 to 30,773 thefts, a 46% increase) and West Midlands (up 5,677 to 10,372 thefts, a 121% increase) force areas.
Six forces recorded a more than doubling in the number of vehicles stolen between 2014-15 and 2018-19, with the biggest jumps in Suffolk (up 172% from 347 to 945 thefts), Surrey (up 133% from 661 to 1,543 thefts) and the West Midlands.
Only Lincolnshire, the City of London and Police Scotland recorded a reduction in thefts over this period however, with reductions of 28, 29 and 473 thefts respectively.
Most police forces (32) also recorded a rise in vehicle thefts year-on-year, between 2017-18 and 2018-19. Kent again saw the largest rise as well as the largest number of overall vehicles stolen in 2018-19 (up 2,575 to 40,726 thefts, 7% more than in 2017-18), followed by Essex (up 1,056 to 5,409 thefts, 24% more than in 2017-18) and the West Midlands (up 836 to 10,372 thefts, 9% more than 2017-18).
When looking at the biggest percentage increases over this 12 month period, Suffolk witnessed the highest jump with 44% more thefts (945 in 2018-19 compared to 655 a year earlier), followed by Bedfordshire (37% increase, from 1,056 to 1,445 thefts) and North Wales (32% increase, from 464 to 612 thefts).