Vehicle thefts costing insurers £1.5 billion a year

Jul 19 | 2022

Following a Freedom of Information Request in June revealing that 101,198 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales in 2021, Kent-based Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA) has highlighted the soaring cost to insurers, now at almost £1.5 billion a year and rising.


CMA Managing Director, Philip Swift, a former police detective explained, “Our Freedom of Information Act request revealing the Home Office’s 101,198 figure has caused quite a stir. It is certainly more realistic than the 48,400 bandied about earlier this year, but the number of offences is just one facet. To understand the situation, you need to factor in the increased values of vehicles, plummeting recovery rates and the condition if found.”

Philip continued, “It is way too simplistic to say car crime is down from 500,000 offences in the mid-1990s to 100,000 today so we’ve largely solved it. Even from 180,000 a year in 2006, when the Home Office stopped publishing the annual car theft index, the picture has changed dramatically. 15-odd years ago, the typical theft was an old Ford Escort worth less than £5K taken for ‘joyriding’ and later recovered, often burnt-out. Now, we commonly see nearly-new Range Rovers worth £100K stolen by professional criminals and they’re seldom found.”

72% of stolen vehicles are never recovered 

“The fact that 72% of stolen vehicles are never recovered is a staggering failure. Having, to an extent, designed out ‘joy riding’, we appear to be left with organised criminals benefiting from the lack of attention now given to vehicle crime. Possibly this is why some constabularies no longer record approximate vehicle values, which is easy enough to do. Unfortunately, the suspected method [of theft] is often not recorded by constabularies now either. Again, lack of data is disguising the true, frankly embarrassing, scale of the UK’s vehicle crime problem,” said Philip.

Photos: Philip Swift; 72% of stolen vehicles are never recovered.