The number of vehicles stolen in Britain has almost doubled in the last five years, new Home Office figures show.

Official stats show that 111,999 cars were pinched in 2017-18, up from 75,308 in the 2013-14 financial year.

Experts say the rise in vehicle crime is the result of organised gangs using advanced keyless technology to remotely steal cars and policing budget cuts that has seen officer numbers dwindle in recent years.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said the statistics were indicative of the reduction in police officer numbers.

“These figures show a very alarming 49 percent increase in vehicle thefts in just four years,” he said. “That’s the equivalent of a vehicle being stolen every five minutes or 300 thefts a day.

“They also paint a very depressing picture of a society where it is all too easy for gangs of thieves to break in and steal vehicles, and where there are fewer police officers to catch them and bring them to justice. From 2013 to 2018 we lost 5,975 police officers, but looking further back to 2006 the story is even worse with 21,958 fewer officers, which represents a 15 percent reduction. 

“Every vehicle stolen and not returned safely to its owner represents a cost that is borne by every motorist who lawfully pays their insurance. If the number of thefts could be reduced, then insurance premiums would undoubtedly be lower. Aside from this it is impossible to underestimate the impact on individuals and business who suffer from this type of crime.”

Responding to the ONS figures, which also reported an increase in violent crime, Chief Constable Bill Skelly, the NPCC’s lead for crime recording and statistics, said the police needed more investment, as well as new ways to become more efficient.

“Rising crime, increased terrorist activity and fewer police officers have put serious strain on the policing we offer to the public,” he said. “We are determining the additional capabilities and investment we need to drive down violence and catch more criminals, and we will make the case at the next government spending review. Equally important is driving up productivity and cutting any remaining inefficiencies.”

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