The data was published by DirectLine based on an analysis of Metropolitan Police data across 32 London boroughs, and coincides with the introduction of new legislation permitting judges to impose life sentences on dangerous drivers and careless drivers who kill while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. London has witnessed more than two incidents of aggravated vehicle taking per day between 2019 and 2021, with a total of 2,663 incidents – amounting to nine incidents for every 10,000 registered vehicles.
Croydon is the London borough that has seen the highest number of aggravated vehicle taking incidents over the past three years.
It’s total of 139 incidents accounts for five per cent (139 incidents) of the London total and 67 per cent higher than average.
Enfield is second with 132 aggravated vehicle takings between 2019 and 2021, followed by Newham (128) and Brent (125).
Conversely, the boroughs with the lowest rate of aggravated vehicle taking over the past three years are Kingston upon Thames (30), Kensington and Chelsea (40) and Richmond upon Thames (42).
The findings are part of DirectLine’s Truth about Car Theft campaign, in partnership with the University of Huddersfield.
One convicted car thief interviewed for the study said: “There’s a new generation of kids coming out now where, like I say, some of them, they tend to not be bothered about using violence, to get some of what they need.”
Professor Rachel Armitage, Professor of Criminology at University of Huddersfield, said: “While conducting our research we were able to gain invaluable insight into deterrents for car criminals.
“We would encourage all car owners to take measures to keep their vehicle safe and not assume their area is off limits.
“Simple acts such as not leaving valuables in your car, taking car keys to bed, and folding in wing mirrors could all help make a car look less attractive to criminals.”
DirectLine outlined seven steps which motorists can take to help reduce their risk of being targeted, or to help retrieve their vehicle if stolen:
- Trackers: Using a tracker within a car can play a big part in getting it car retrieved
- Alarms: Use of a motion-sensor alarm in driveways, particularly using a recorded voice, will typically deter a car thief from entering vehicles
- Cleanliness: Having a clean car also helps, as a car thief will see a messy car and typically think there is something of value underneath the mess
- Keys: Taking car keys up to bed, rather than leaving them downstairs. If a car thief can see keys on a table downstairs, they are likely to try and retrieve them to enter cars
- Lights: Installing a flashing LED light onto the roof of cars can deter car thieves as it makes vehicles more visible. Parking under a streetlight, or in a well-lit driveway, can also put thieves off
- Entry/exit noise: For example, having a gravel driveway – noise is a deterrent for car thieves
- Deterrents: A car behind a gate, lights, or even a dog are the biggest deterrent for car thieves