RAC Insurance has urged drivers to do more to make their car a less easy target for opportunistic thieves, after "disturbing" figures revealed vehicle thefts are on the rise in almost every corner of Great Britain.
South Yorkshire Police dealt with 2,797 stolen vehicle reports in 2018-19, according to figures obtained by RAC Insurance – 66 per cent more than the 1,682 cases seen in 2014-15.
Some 152,541 vehicles were stolen in 2018-19 across Great Britain, a rise of 56 per cent compared to 2014-15.
All but three of the 41 police forces that responded to Freedom of Information requests recorded an increase in thefts over the period.
RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures paint a rather disturbing picture. Vehicle thefts are on the rise almost everywhere, and in some parts of the country numbers are rocketing.
“It’s also not the case that the rises in crime are confined to a few larger urban areas, with many police forces covering more rural areas also seeing big increases.
“While vehicle crime is at far lower levels today than it was in the early 1990s thanks to improvements in vehicle security, and the number of vehicles licensed to be driven on the UK’s roads is higher than at any point in the past, it’s still concerning that so many more vehicles are being stolen than just a few years ago.”
The force that saw the biggest hike in offences was Suffolk Constabulary, where incidents increased by 172 per cent, from 347 to 945.
This was followed by Surrey Police, with a 133 per cent increase, from 661 to 1,543.
Mr Williams believes the increase is partly due to a rise in thefts of vehicles that are easier to steal, such as motorbikes and mopeds which are less likely to have immobilisers.
Government data shows that thieves use a key in nearly half of incidents, indicating that many drivers can do more to protect their vehicles.
Mr Williams went on: “While organised criminal gangs are responsible for a large proportion of crime, thieves will also be opportunistic in nature so the more a driver can do to make their car a less likely target the better.”