Last year 85,000 thousand cars were stolen in Britain - that’s a 30 per cent increase in just 3 years.
And it’s the way in which these cars are being stolen - with thieves prepared to go to frightening levels - breaking into our homes at all times of the day and night, just to get their hands on our car keys and ultimately steal our vehicles.
The country is in the middle of a car crime epidemic. Tonight reporter Jonathan Maitland investigates why.
When Lucy and Mark Davies and their two children went to bed one night in June, they could never have imaged the terror they were about to face. Waking up to noises at midnight from outside the house they were horrified to discover a gang of masked men on their driveway.
The Thieves stole Mark’s £35,000 Mercedes and a police chase ensued which ended in two of the gang arrested and subsequently sentenced to prison. The other two remain at large.
Police were on the scene within 15 minutes and were able to act fast and get a good result but the reality is that police resources are stretched beyond belief.
Last week alone, Greater Manchester Police’s car crime intercept unit dealt with 232 stolen vehicles.
But despite thefts being up, funding for police forces is down by £2.3 billion pounds in the last 7 years and the annual crime level has for the first time passed the 5 million mark, a rise of 13% in the past year.
But a local group of residents who experienced a spate of car crime in their area a few months ago in which 252 houses were broken into in just 19 days are fighting back. They’ve launched their own group based on a mobile messaging app - a modern day version of Neighbourhood Watch. It means they can all stay vigilant and keep lines of communication open reporting suspicious activities between them across 100 different roads.
Jane Hamilton and Wendy Green run the group.
With police forces stretched and homeowners threatened, how can you protect your car?
Advice for Car owners:
- Always be vigilant
- Always lock your doors, even when in traffic
- Park in well lit, secure areas
- If you’ve got a garage, use it
- Steering locks can act as a deterrent
- Never leave the engine running with the keys inside
- Don’t leave any valuables on show
- Keep your keys out of sight - at home and when you’re out and about
See more this evening at 7.30pm on ITV.