Car theft has been increasing in the UK for decades now, and in 2023 it may be reaching a tipping point. With an array of factors playing into the rise in car theft, it’s important to be aware of the causes. Not only that, but what can be done to help reduce and prevent car thefts in the UK?

Car thieves are making more use of technology and vehicle theft is rising, the AA warns. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime estimates for England and Wales suggest an increase in vehicle theft of 24.9 per cent in 2022 compared to the previous year. Similarly, theft from vehicles rose by 9.9pc whereas residential burglary increased by 2.9pc.

Across England in Wales in 2021, some 104,435 had their vehicles stolen compared to 130,389 last year. For 2022, 212,900 people had items stolen out of their vehicle compared to 193,647 the year before. Devon and Cornwall Police were unable to supply figures to the ONS. The AA also queries police priorities when it comes to tackling car crime.

Thieves are keeping pace with manufacturers by using a variety of technical methods to steal them. Relay theft, key cloning and signal blocking continue to be the main methods of illegally obtaining vehicles. As auto manufacturers work on key security and encourage drivers to put keys to sleep to reduce these types of theft, criminals are using new practices to attack vehicle security systems. As for thieves taking things from cars, their faster and more traditional methods are smashing windows or forcing windows and doors open; to gain phones, wallets, and other valuables.

Advances in these digital entry systems are also making it easier for criminals to clone keys or illegally access cars altogether. To add to this, vehicle immobilizers, fitted to most modern cars, are intended to make theft more difficult but unfortunately the increasing sophistication of these systems can also enable criminals to find ways around the immobilizers.

Another factor that’s attributed to the rising rate of car theft in the UK in 2023 is the prevalence of young or inexperienced robbers with higher ambition but lesser familiarity with the crime. Taking advantage of the new efficient entry systems and immobilizers, these criminals often stumble upon the perfect opportunity for one-off, easily committing crimes and fleeing with no knowledge of the troubles facing them.

Despite these unfavourable circumstances, is it possible to help reduce the rates of car theft in the UK in 2023? One way to feature in the fight against car thefts is to invest in additional security systems such as GPS trackers and steering-wheel locks to help ensure your car is properly protected. Educating the public and raising awareness of anti-theft measures, technology and security measures can also help reduce the risk of becoming a target for criminals.