Car theft rate in West Yorkshire is one of the highest in the country, data reveals

Car crime.
Car crime.

Police in West Yorkshire are dealing with one of the highest rates of car theft in England and Wales.

It has led vehicle manufacturers to demand tighter controls on the "open sale" of equipment used by criminals to steal cars.

According to the latest Home Office data, West Yorkshire Police recorded 5,263 vehicles stolen in the area in the 2017-18 financial year, 7 per cent fewer than in the previous year.

That is a rate of 23 vehicles stolen for every 10,000 residents in West Yorkshire.

Car thefts are on the up in England and Wales, increasing by 15% since 2016-17, and 40 per cent over the last five years.

Police and motoring campaigners have said this is probably due to a rise in keyless car thefts.

A spokesman from the Association of British Insurers said that criminals are exploiting the vulnerabilities of the entry system by using pairs of radio transmitters to capture the signal from the vehicle’s fob, among other methods.

He added: "The theft risk will be one of many factors taken into account by insurers when assessing the price of your motor insurance policy.

"In recent years the average cost of motor insurance has been rising – in 2017, the average motor premium paid rose by 9 per cent on 2016 to a record high."

Nationally, about 70 per cent of vehicle-related thefts occurred at home and during the evening or night.

The ONS said that 43 per cent of perpetrators entered the vehicle through an unlocked door, while breaking in through car windows has become less common in recent years.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, said: "Manufacturers are investing billions in ever more sophisticated security features and software updates on an ongoing basis.

"However, we continue to call for action to stop the open sale of equipment which helps criminals steal cars – equipment which has no legal purpose – and have written to the Home Secretary seeking a meeting to agree how this can be addressed.”

In West Yorkshire there were 494 cases of aggravated robbery - for driving the stolen vehicle dangerously on the road or causing an accident.

Police also recorded 14,934 incidents related to thefts from vehicles, either of personal belongings, radios or other items.

That is a decrease of 6.3 per cent from the previous year.

There were 4,156 crimes where the vehicle was damaged as part of an attempted theft, where the intent of the offender was not obvious.