Leeds steals UK title as 'capital of car crime'

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Leeds is the car crime capital of Britain. The unwelcome label for the Yorkshire city, where owners have a 5.5 per cent chance of finding an empty space where their car used to be, has been awarded in a survey by the insurance company, Eagle Star.

London, which when mentioned in any telephone insurance quotation still receives an almost instant "Oh, that will put up your premium, sir", is apparently far from top of the theft league.

Residents of Birmingham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Manchester and Glasgow all have a higher chance of having their car driven off without consent, than do the residents of the capital city.

According to the Eagle Star survey, the first to rank cities by theft and car crime, is based on claims from the company's 1.5 million motor policy holders. The survey puts the national average at 3 per cent.

Recent official government figures revealed that a car crime was now recorded every 21 seconds.

However, in Leeds the national average would seem to be a dream figure for the one in 20 motorists who have had their cars stolen or broken into last year.

In Birmingham it was 5.1 per cent and Newcastle was next riskiest at 5 per cent, followed by Glasgow and Manchester at 4.7%. The lowest English figure was Southampton with a 1.2 per cent level.

Motorists in Aberdeen might be worried about ice or snow on the road, but they can worry far less about car theft. Fewer than one in a hundred Aberdonian motorists had their cars stolen in 1995. The Eagle Star figure for the granite city is 0.8 per cent.

Ian Johnston, divisional director of Eagle Star, said: "Social and economic differences between cities can account for some of the contrasts in crime rates. But efforts to crack down on thieves have also had varying success.

"We believe more must be done, especially in the worst-affected cities, to curb the problem and we are right behind the Government's new campaign to improve crime prevention."

The Eagle Star survey comes as the Home Office attempts to improve car crime statistics by relaunching its Crack Car Crime campaign which, although regarded as initially successful, is thought to have lost its impact.

How safe is your car?

City Risk factor

Leeds 5.5%

Birmingham 5.1%

Newcastle 5.0%

Glasgow 4.7%

Manchester 4.7%

Nottingham 4.1%

Sheffield 4.0%

Bristol 3.9%

Liverpool 3.6%

Cardiff 3.6%

UK average 3.0%

Leicester 3.0%

Edinburgh 2.5%

London 2.4%

Wolverhampton 2.3%

Southampton 1.2%

Aberdeen 0.8%