One in ten are victims of car crime

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The Independent Online
ONE IN 10 people was the victim of car crime last year, according to a survey that reveals an increase in thefts and break-ins. The figure compared with 9 per cent in a similar study a year ago. The survey, published yesterday, found that car crime was the lowest in the South, where 3 per cent said they had been victims, while the highest was in Lancashire.

Of those questioned, 5 per cent had had their car broken into in the past 12 months, doubling to 10 per cent in the 25-to-34 age group. The survey, published as the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, urged people to intervene when they saw crime being committed, will come as a blow to the authorities. The Home Office's British Crime Survey recorded a fall of 27 per cent in thefts of vehicles and a fall of 25 per cent in attempted thefts or break-ins between 1995 and 1997.

The survey by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) found that those most in fear of car crime were youngsters who tended to drive older and less secure vehicles. Almost half those aged 17 to 24 (48 per cent) feared becoming the victim of car crime. This compared with 15 per cent of those over 55. Concern was highest in the North-east (41 per cent) and Lancashire (37 per cent).

The survey also found that 92 per cent believed manufacturers should be doing more to improve vehicle security, compared with 89 per cent in the previous survey.

Freddie Aldous, BVRLA president, said: "While the UK remains the car- crime capital of Europe, we will continue to pressurise manufacturers to make security features standard across their range of products." According to the association, vehicle crime accounts for a quarter of UK crime and affects more than a million drivers annually. Three out of 100 British motorists will have their cars stolen, compared with one in 1,000 in Switzerland, said the BVRLA.

About 30 per cent of car crime is committed in car parks, where vehicles are 200 times more likely to be broken into or stolen than those parked at home. The survey was published by the BVRLA as it announced the winners of its annual vehicle security awards. Vauxhall was voted the most secure manufacturer in the super-mini and lower-medium class, while BMW took both the upper-medium and luxury and executive sector awards.

Ford was top in the light commercial vehicle section of the awards. Mercedes- Benz won the award in the heavy goods vehicle category.

A new environmental award went to the Swedish car company Volvo, as the manufacturer that could best demonstrate "green" credentials across the entire production process. The Home Office minister Paul Boateng said: "Motor manufacturers have made real progress in recent years in making cars more difficult to steal. Vehicle crime accounts for a quarter of all crime and must be tackled."