Car theft 'worst in England and Wales': Crime survey establishes a league table of 19 nations

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The Independent Online
MOTORISTS in England and Wales are more likely to have their car stolen than drivers in any of the 19 other countries featured in an international crime survey.

On average, according to the survey published by the Home Office, 3.3 per cent of owners have their car stolen in a year, compared with 3 per cent in Italy, 2.8 per cent in France and 2.5 per cent in the United States.

Countries with particularly low rates of theft include West Germany and Japan, both 0.8 per cent, and Switzerland where the rate is so low that statistically it is shown as 0.0 per cent. Scotland and Northern Ireland both had much lower rates than England and Wales, with 2.2 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

The statistics were obtained from interviews with 2,000 people from each country who were asked about their experience of crime in the past year.

England and Wales fared relatively better on thefts from cars, which were worst in Spain, with 14.8 per cent of owners reporting loss during the year, followed by Poland (11.6 per cent) and England and Wales on 8.7 per cent. Again, Scotland with 7.7 per cent and Northern Ireland with 5.6 per cent were lower than England and Wales, while the coutries faring best were Japan with 1.5 per cent and Switzerland with 2.4 per cent.

These figures were released as part of the RAC's Crime Digest which showed that thefts of cars rose by nearly 2 per cent in England and Wales, from 587,856 in 1992 to 598,331 in 1993.

There was a staggering 52 per cent rise in Humberside and a 20 per cent increase in Cambridgeshire while thefts fell 15 per cent in Sussex and 11 per cent in Surrey.

Overall, fewer than a fifth of culprits are found and one third of cars are never recovered. In London, where more professional thieves operated, 50 per cent of stolen cars are never found

However, there was a drop in thefts from cars in England and Wales between 1992 and 1993 from 961,340 to 926,086, nearly 4 per cent. Several police forces recorded sharp falls in their area, notably the City of London where there was a 32 per cent drop because of the increased policing due to the terrorist threat. Areas where thefts from cars fell dramatically included Cleveland (23.5 per cent), Nottinghamshire (19 per cent and Merseyside (16 per cent).

(Table omitted)