West Midlands sees biggest regional car theft increase

The number of car theft claims in the West Midlands has more than tripled in the space of four years, new data shows

The West Midlands has seen a bigger increase in car theft over the last four years than any other region. There was a 214 per cent rise in claims for car thefts in the region between 2014 and 2018, with around 16 thefts occurring for every 10,000 registered vehicles, according to data from Direct Line.

The majority of these claims were made by drivers living in the B postcode area, which covers Birmingham and some surrounding areas.

• Fewer than half of all stolen cars recovered by police

The North-west saw the second-biggest increase between 2014 and 2018, with the number of claims rising by 110 per cent to 17 per 10,000 registered vehicles on average. Meanwhile, the North-east and Yorkshire was third, with a 104 per cent increase.


Increase in volume of theft claims from 2014 to 2018

Car theft claims per 10,000 registered vehicles

West Midlands

214 per cent



110 per cent


North-east and Yorkshire

104 per cent


Greater London

61 per cent


East Midlands

60 per cent


East of England

48 per cent



43 per cent



29 per cent



29 per cent



23 per cent


Northern Ireland

Zero per cent


United Kingdom

63 per cent


Car crime rises with 113,000 vehicles stolen in 2018

The number of cars stolen in the UK increased by nine per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year, with a total of 113,037 offences of “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle” logged by police. That means roughly one vehicle was reported stolen every five minutes last year.

Motoring experts called the nine per cent increase “very worrying”, and reiterated concerns over the ease with which crooks can steal cars via keyless relay theft. The total number of vehicle-related crimes was up two per cent over 2018, with 463,497 incidents recorded.

• Car security: how the industry is staying one step ahead of the criminals

But while the figures – from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) – show car crime continues to rise, the rate of increase has slowed from 2017’s surge, when 56 per cent more vehicles were stolen compared to 2016. The ONS data also reveals the incidents of carjacking, or “aggravated vehicle taking”, fell by seven per cent last year, to 5,443 incidents.

The number of cars reported as being criminally damaged was also up by 14 per cent, to 811,000, though these figures relate to survey work carried out by the ONS, rather than recorded crimes.

Commenting on the data, Edmund King, president of the AA, warned “Having access to your keys is the easiest way for a thief to steal your car, so drivers need to ensure they protect them properly.”

Some manufacturers are starting to address the rising tide of keyless theft, with Ford recently updating its Focus and Fiesta keys to include motion sensors, meaning their wireless signals will only activate when the key is moving. 

King added: “We are also concerned that criminal damage to vehicles have risen to more than 800,000 over the past year. We believe a large proportion of these could be down to vehicles in car parks being bumped or scraped by others and then fleeing the scene.”

Have you been a victim of car crime? Let us know in the comments…

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