Car burglaries rocketing in West Midlands, shock figures show
The number of car-key burglaries are spiralling out of control in the West Midlands, alarming figures show.
The Express & Star can reveal the number of incidents has more than tripled in the past five years.
And the picture in the Black Country is also grim, with the number of reported car-key burglaries more than doubling since 2014.
The trend shows that thieves are becoming more brazen as police struggle with severe budget cuts from central government.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "It is no coincidence that whilst the government slashes police budgets and cuts officer numbers, criminals are growing increasingly confident they can evade the law without fear of being caught."
The worrying findings come after a number of shocking car jackings have taken place on the Black Country's streets in recent months - another crime which is happening on the region's streets.
In one terrifying raid, Sharon Martin, aged 60, was run over in her son's Audi, after burglaries broke into his home and feared for her life.
Car thieves are going to extreme lengths to steal cars, which can end up in so-called 'chop shops' where vehicles are stripped down for car parts, before being sold on.
These latest figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request.
They show that 3,994 car-key burglaries took place in the West Midlands during 2018, compared with 1,260 in 2014 - a rise of 217 per cent. In total, there has been 11,441 incidents in the past five years.
Across the Black Country, the number of reported incidents rose from 461 to 1276 - an increase of 177 per cent.
The worst-hit borough was Dudley, with 1,163 reports made to West Midlands Police. In second place was Sandwell with 1,028 reports made, Walsall was third with 981 and Wolverhampton was fourth with 647.
But, another stark picture showed that the the biggest spike in car-key burglaries took place in Sandwell.
The borough saw a whopping 340 per cent increase in reports from 2014 to 2018. Dudley was second with a 182 per cent increase, Walsall was third with a 174 per cent increase and Wolverhampton was last, with a 30 per cent increase.
Mr Jamieson, said: “It is very worrying that the number of car key burglaries in the West Midlands, and across the rest of the country, are rising so quickly
“Since 2010 West Midlands Police has been on the end of cuts totalling £175 million. That’s about a quarter of its budget.
“The message to government is clear. If crimes like burglaries are to be tackled, and we are all to be kept safe, then it needs to reverse the cuts and reprioritise policing.”
The epidemic of car-key burglaries has seen Mr Jamieson's office issue a warning about which car makes are most vulnerable to theft.
According to modern data, Fords are the most popular manufacturer among thieves followed by BMWs and Audis.
Despite facing tough budget cuts, West Midlands Police officers are keeping up the pressure on criminals.
A recent operation saw police catch almost 1,000 suspects in a five-month-period where almost 600 stolen vehicles were recovered.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Ingram said: "We’ve seen an upturn in car key burglaries and vehicle robberies, but we’re responding with targeted patrols around the region by Central Motorway Police Group officers, who are using intelligence and on-board CCTV cameras to catch and bring offenders to justice."