100 cars stolen every single day in West Midlands
More than 100 cars are stolen in the West Midlands Police area every day, new figures reveal.
The region is one of the worst areas in the country when it comes to vehicle crime, with police dealing with more than 40,000 thefts over the past year.
Rising figures today led to a police and crime commissioner to warn of a potential “epidemic” in vehicle crime.
West Midlands Police dealt with 102 car crimes a day, as the total number of reports rose three per cent to 37,202 over the year.
And Staffordshire Police also saw a spike over the period, with 5,687 crimes recorded, up four per cent on 2017.
The West Midlands force saw the second highest number of vehicle crimes in the country, behind the Metropolitan Police.
Vehicle crime is defined as ‘theft from or of a vehicle or interference with a vehicle’.
West Midlands PCC David Jamieson has made tackling the rise in vehicle theft one of his key priorities. He said: “These figures will come as a worry for drivers. In the West Midlands we are right at the forefront of the campaign to end what could easily become an epidemic of vehicle theft.”
Mr Jamieson also called on car manufacturers to step up security measures on their vehicles in a bid to clamp down on the region’s burgeoning ‘chop shop’ scene for stolen car parts.
Since 2014 the number of car key burglaries – where criminals break into private property and steal keys before making off with a vehicle – has doubled to nearly 4,000, while the region is the most at risk area in the country for keyless car theft.
Last year overall crime went up by 10 per cent across the wider West Midlands region.
'We will take on the car crime epidemic'
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has revealed he is working on a national level to examine ways to reduce the torrent of thefts.
Mr Jamieson has teamed up with the National Vehicle Crime Taskforce, which is headed by Policing Minister Nick Hurd, and is aimed at developing a stronger response to vehicle crime.
Official figures out today show there were 450,509 vehicle crimes reported to the 42 police forces in England and Wales last year, a two per cent spike from 2017.
They include 5,687 crimes recorded in the Staffordshire Police area, up four per cent on the previous year.
West Mercia Police bucked the trend. It saw a 10 per cent fall in car crime according to the figures, at 5,612, while Dyfed-Powys Police had one of the lowest rates of vehicle crime in the country at 1,037.
Mr Jamieson said his force was at the forefront of the national drive to reduce car crime. He added: “We know that much of the rise in vehicle theft is being driven by organised criminals who are often also linked to issues such as drugs, cannabis farms and county lines.
“West Midlands Police have been cracking down on ‘chop shops’, where vehicles are dismantled and used to repair cars which have been bought through salvage auctions.
“I have been running a national campaign to tackle vehicle crime. Including bringing together car manufacturers to challenge them on why so many of their vehicles seem to be stolen using security flaws in their ‘keyless’ technology.
“I am now working closely with the Government’s National Vehicle Crime Taskforce which is looking at how we can address vehicle crime from all angles; from criminals abusing the salvage industry to buy written off cars for cash, tightening vehicle security to legislative changes which will look at ensuring that all vehicles being put back on the road requiring a proper safety check and a new MOT.”
The force has made more than 1,000 arrests related to car crime in just five months, with the majority of them linked to so-called ‘chop shops’ and thefts to order. As part of Operation Cantil, which has been running since last September, more than 600 vehicles have been recovered and officers have been involved in more than 300 pursuits of stolen vehicles.
The national taskforce, which also involves representatives from the motor industry, is set to publish a vehicle crime action plan featuring new measures in the coming months.
Mr Hurd said: “We are determined to take swift and decisive action on emerging crime threats.With rates of vehicle theft increasing, I am keen to ensure everything is being done to prevent these crimes.
“Drawing together the police, industry and government proved to be a successful way to see what could be done to tackle moped crime and I’m eager to see the results of applying a similar model to vehicle theft.I’m confident the taskforce will significantly strengthen our response.”