Car crime stats prove importance of insurance

If someone stole your car, how confident would you be that the police would retrieve it?
Car Thief
You might be surprised to learn you’ve only got around a 50% chance of getting your car back. And that’s only if the police actually deem the crime worthy of investigation in the first place.

Counting the cost of car crime

Last year, a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), found police failed to attend an average of a quarter of all vehicle crimes in 2013. A further study from APU, provider of accident investigation and fraud prevention services, took six years’ worth of data from 43 of 45 UK police forces and found that, of the estimated 117,000 cars that are stolen in the UK each year, more than half (59,000) are never recovered. Half of those 59,000 unrecovered vehicles aren’t even considered to be worthy of investigation. Using British Car Auctions’ (BCA) average used car value of £7,622 as a guide, the study estimated cars worth almost half-a-billion pounds are never recovered, with £229 million-worth slipping away without their theft being investigated. And even these eye-watering sums might only be a conservative estimate. Neil Thomas, APU’s Director of Investigative Services, explains: “The monetary value of the lost vehicles can only be described as the tip of the iceberg, as many recovered vehicles are found damaged or burnt-out and subsequently written-off. “In reality, the loss figure is likely to be higher still.”

Business bears the brunt

When it comes to unrecovered vehicles, businesses are the hardest hit, not necessarily because they are more likely to be victims of car crime, but because police often classify the taking of courtesy cars or fleet vehicles as a ‘civil crime’. If a business (a car hire company for instance) has effectively allowed someone to use a car that is subsequently stolen, police are unlikely to open a criminal investigation. That’s not to say private owners aren’t also affected. So why exactly does car crime no longer seem to be a priority for police forces?

Police cuts to blame?

Part of the problem appears to be the arbitrary way in which vehicle theft data is recorded. There is little alignment between forces as each one takes down different particulars and files them in different formats. Increased pressure on police forces brought on by budget cuts and overstretched resources is also part of the problem, as some forces simply don’t have the time or means to investigate and retrieve stolen vehicles. This fits with the idea that forces have to ‘screen out’ cases they feel will be unsolvable. For instance, figures from the Metropolitan Police show that 45% of all car theft cases were screened out across 2012/13. And this highlights just how important it is to make sure you have adequate car insurance in place, in case the worst should happen.

Getting the right car insurance

Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, explains: “With more than half of all stolen vehicles never being recovered, it’s vital to have cover in place in case your motor should go missing and never come back. If not, you’ll have to foot the bill to replace it yourself – a huge financial problem, especially if you’re still paying off a car loan. “And even if your car is found, it’s likely it will have been damaged in some way as part of the robbery, and repair bills could run into the thousands.” You can quickly run quotes with MoneySuperMarket to make sure you get the right insurance at the right price – and remember to take out at least third party fire and theft (TPFT), but preferably fully comprehensive insurance, to make sure you’re covered against theft and damage to your car. Don’t assume comprehensive cover will be hugely more expensive than TPFT – it often isn’t. Run a couple of quotes for both types of cover to see if comprehensive fits into your budget.

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