<img src="https://secure.cloud-ingenuity.com/793325.png" style="display:none;">
  • AX research reveals significant rise in vehicle theft between 2016 and 2019
  • Theft increased by 12% between financial years 2016/7 and 2017/8 alone
  • AX’s vehicle protection expert offers advice on keeping cars safe on the driveway during lockdown
  • Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire among police force respondents with greatest increases of theft – up by 40% in some cases

Vehicle theft in England and Wales has continued to rise dramatically, according to figures from a Freedom of Information request conducted by AX.

While the Covid-19 lockdown may yet reduce car thefts in 2020, responses obtained from police forces across England and Wales suggest theft of motor vehicles rose by a significant 17% between 2016 and 2019, following analysis by the provider of intelligent vehicle protection and management technologies.

Much of that increase occurred between financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18, with figures rising by 12%, although the figures continued to rise by a further 5% between years 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Of the Police forces that responded, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire Police saw the largest increases, with Nottinghamshire Police reporting an overall rise of some 60%.

Hertfordshire, West Mercia, Surrey, West Midlands and Essex Police also saw well-above average increases, with each seeing overall surges of more than 40%.

At the other end of the scale, some forces have seen a decrease in motor vehicle thefts, including Merseyside Police and Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Humberside Police reported the largest drop, with a remarkable decrease of 36%.

However, the overall figures are indicative of vehicle theft continuing to be a rising problem, with thieves using ever more complex methods to steal vehicles.


Biggest increases in stolen vehicles*

Police Force

Reported Stolen Vehicles

% Change since 16/17













West Midlands







Biggest decreases in reported stolen vehicles*

Police Force

Reported Stolen Vehicles

% Change since 16/17













Avon and Somerset



With the UK on lockdown and many vehicles now indefinitely stuck on the driveway, cars may still be at risk from opportunistic car thieves. Neil Thomas, AX’s Director of Investigative Services and a former Detective Inspector has suggested ways to keep cars as secure as possible.

Tips for keeping your car safe off the road

1.       Keep your keys, and yourself, safe and secure

Most thieves need the keys to steal your car, so keep them away from the front door to prevent criminals from ‘fishing’ them through your letter box. The safety of everyone in your home is much more important though, so avoid taking the keys upstairs with you as it could put families at risk.

2.       Double check electronic locking

Always manually check your vehicle is locked before walking away.  Electronic devices that jam the signal from your key fob to prevent your car locking are increasingly common among car thieves.

3.       Consider turning off keyless technology

Many systems can be temporarily switched off to prevent electronic compromise and keyless theft and you can consult your local dealer to help do this. You may also wish to place your keys into a signal blocking Faraday pouch.

4.       Review your home security

Consider installing motion detecting CCTV at your home to deter thieves. Virtual ‘neighbourhood watch’ schemes via social media or WhatsApp can also help alert each other of suspicious activity in the local area.

5.       Don’t despair

If the worst does happen, there are tracking solutions and vehicle recovery services available to help you locate and recover your vehicle, which could save you from an expensive insurance claim and an increased premium at renewal.


Neil Thomas added: “While the lockdown may temporally reduce some types of car theft, criminals are using increasingly intelligent ways to steal vehicles and continue to find success. The combination of organised crime getting smarter and ability to make quick returns has drastically increased pressure on police forces to control the theft of motor vehicles.

“Car thieves are opportunists and have no respect for property and will remain determined to carry on illegal activity despite the current restrictions on movement across the UK. I have even seen recent reports of vehicles belonging to key workers being stolen.

“During this period of lockdown, it’s even more important that car owners remain vigilant and do what they can to keep their car safe while they’re using them less frequently, if at all.”

AX is dedicated to the fight against vehicle theft and has its own specialist fraud investigation and vehicle protection team working to recover stolen vehicles using the expertise of its former police officers and forensic data analysts.

For more information about AX services, take a look at AX Innovation.