UK has worst car crime record in Europe

MOTORISTS in the United Kingdom are more than twice as likely to have their vehicles stolen as anywhere else in western Europe, a survey has found.

The UK has the worst record for car crime, with about 600,000 vehicles stolen last year - more than one a minute. On average, 29 out of every 1,000 vehicles on the road were stolen. The next worst country was France, where 13 per 1,000 were stolen. Germany was safest.

Despite the high theft rate, police in the UK were among the best at recovering stolen vehicles and the Dutch were the worst, the report says.

The study, by the insurance company Eagle Star, estimates that theft of and from cars cost British insurers nearly pounds 500m last year. It accounted for more than 15 per cent of claims, about double the level five years ago.

Within the UK, the rate of theft varied from 30 per 1,000 cars in England and Wales to 21 in Scotland and 15 in Northern Ireland. The survey found that car theft was lowest in Germany, despite a rise in crime after unification. Fewer than 4 per 1,000 cars were stolen in Germany. The next most more secure country was Belgium, where fewer than eight per 1,000 cars went missing.

About 65 per cent of stolen vehicles in Britain were eventually retrieved by the police, compared with about 60 per cent in Germany, 48 per cent in Italy and 39 per cent in the Netherlands.

The French police had the best record for finding stolen vehicles, with 73 per cent recovered.

Germany had more cars last year - 36.5 million - than any of the seven countries examined. The UK had about 21 million, Italy 28 million, France 24 million, Spain 12.5 million, the Netherlands 5.5 million and Belgium about 4 million.

Gill Clark, an Eagle Star divisional director, said: 'Car theft may have passed its peak, but the UK is still Europe's car crime black spot. We have almost reached a situation where car theft has become a part of everyday life and our record must appal our European neighbours.

'Motorists can play their part by fitting security devices, locking their vehicles and keeping valuables obscured from view.'

(Graph omitted)

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