Vehicle thefts in England and Wales rocketed by almost 60 percent in the 2017/18 financial year, new data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.

Around 89,000 vehicles were stolen between the beginning of April 2017 and the end of March 2018 – an increase of 32,000 on the number of thefts seen during the previous 12 months.

The news comes as the ONS announced a 17 percent increase in vehicle-related thefts, which includes offences such as theft from vehicles and attempted thefts.

The RAC reacted to the news with horror, describing the increase in thefts as ‘shocking’ and blaming the rises on issues with modern car security systems.

RAC insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘After decades of falling vehicle crime, these latest statistics show that the trend has sadly reversed. While we know that the picture is an uneven one across the country, the fact that 32,000 more people were victims of car theft last year compared to 2016 is nothing short of shocking.

‘The increase can probably be put down at least in part to the rise of more digitally-savvy criminals who try to exploit vulnerabilities in modern car security systems – although we know manufacturers will do all they can to keep their vehicles secure.’

Williams said drivers should take basic precautions to reduce the likelihood of having a vehicle stolen.

‘There’s a lot drivers can do to reduce the chances of being a victim of this sort of crime,’ he said. ‘From always parking in well-lit, public places and making sure their vehicle’s software is up-to-date, right through to installing ‘low tech’ equipment like steering wheel locks that could be enough to deter thieves.’

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