Vehicle Vandalism Hotspots

The level of cover your car insurance provides will depend on what type of cover you have. Comprehensive cover will provide the maximum level of protection, with some policies including cover in the event your vehicle is vandalised.

Fortunately, car vandalism isn’t something that happens too frequently, with government data suggesting that vehicle vandalism statistically affects around four in every 1,000 people. But victims often appear to be reluctant to make insurance claims for these cases after they have reported the incident to the police, with just one claim being made per 1,000 policies according to AXA.

This means that the percentage of vandalism victims claiming for these incidents on their insurance could be as low as 26%.

Vandalism victims making claims on their insurance

This study looks at data from over 300 Police Force Areas and Community Safety Partnerships to provide a breakdown of the 232,000 offences across the UK during the 2017-18 financial year. It also uses AXA data to determine which makes, colours and types of car have most commonly had claims for vandalism.

Using both sets of data this study aims to understand why people are opting not to claim, and how to best protect against vandalism in the future.

What counts as vandalism?

The definition of ‘criminal damage to a vehicle’ is damage to a vehicle that was intentionally caused by someone or something – but not caused by another vehicle. Damage that is caused by another vehicle would be classed as a ‘road traffic collision’. One example of criminal damage to a vehicle would include someone using a sharp object to damage the side of your car.

It is specifically instances of ‘criminal damage to a vehicle’ that we are considering in this report.

Vandalism icon

How have location and vehicle type impacted the likelihood of being vandalised?

Vandalism rates vary across the country, with certain vehicles and areas of the UK found to be statistically safer than others.

Do you want to know the vandalism rate for a particular postcode or type of vehicle? Input a postcode below to discover how it compares with other areas..


2.05 Crime rate per 1,000 population

Vandalism rates split by location

This study looks at the number of offences for each separate Community Safety Partnership (CSP). A CSP is a collection of representatives from the police, local authorities, fire and rescue authorities, health and probation services who work together to protect their local communities from crime. They usually cover a town or other localised area.

Highest vandalism rates in the UK

In order to draw fair comparisons between locations, our crime rates need to account for the total population of the areas covered by each CSP, rather than just total figures that can be distorted by highly populated regions.

For example, our data reveals that Birmingham had the greatest number of vandalism offences – nearly 5,000 over the year – but its sizable population means its crime rate is comparatively lower than other areas of the country. Leeds (4,236 cases) and Manchester (3,966) also reported high levels of vandalism, not accounting for population.

Meanwhile, the Isles of Scilly may have the lowest population of any CSP (2,259 people), but with just two vandalism offences during the time period, it had comfortably the lowest crime rate in the UK.

Rutland in the East Midlands only registered 67 cases of criminal damage and the City of London only saw 82, but this references the small area and population of the city’s financial district only and not the wider towns covered by the Metropolitan Police.

In fact, while the Met’s Police Force Area – PFAs are larger regions that encompass many CSPs – accounted for 10% of all vandalism cases in the country, its eight million-strong population gives it a modest rate for criminal damage (2.76).

Taking population figures into account, according to our research, South Nottinghamshire reported the highest number of vandalism cases per 1,000 members of its population (11.65 cases), ahead of the City of London (10.71) and Middlesbrough (8.46).

Lowest Vandalism rates in the UK

Based on the data, a vehicle was 13 times more likely to be vandalised in South Nottinghamshire than the Isles of Scilly, with Rutland and Broadland also featuring among the safest locations in the UK, proportionate to the total population in those areas.

Most vandalised vehicles

While cases of vandalism are often random crimes, certain makes and colours of cars statistically fare better than others. However, it’s important to keep in mind that insurance providers are only notified about one vehicle in every thousand being vandalised, and the vehicles you might expect to be targeted most often are not necessarily.

For example, according to data by AXA, an owner of a convertible car (2.0 claims for vandalism for every 1,000 policies) may have been the most expected victim, but this was not wildly different to Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs), which had the lowest vandalism rate (0.8 cases per 1,000). Hatchbacks also go under the radar, with 1.0 vandalism claims, as do estate cars (1.2).

The data showed that German cars tended to be the main targets for vandals. German manufacturers make up three of the top four car makes for vehicles targeted: Mercedes, BMW and Audi. By contrast, Seat and Citroen owners escape with the fewest cases of vandalism – Seats were over three times less likely to be vandalised than Mercedes vehicles.

In terms of colour, green vehicles were statistically most likely to be targeted, while blue cars were the least likely to be vandalised, according to the research.

Vehicle vandalism rates

Does my insurance cover me for criminal damage to a vehicle and will claims for vandalism affect my no-claims bonus?

A more comprehensive car insurance policy is likely to cover you for vandalism offences, whereas most standard policies would be less likely to do so. This is because these types of claims tend to fall under the ‘at-fault’ category, which means the insurer either considers you responsible for the incident, or simply cannot identify another party to recover the costs from.

As most vandalism cases often involve an unidentified perpetrator, insurance companies would be unable to recover costs from those committing the crime.

However, it’s worth noting that making a claim for vandalism is likely to affect your no-claims discount. So, it is advisable to check your insurance policy or quote to see if you have protection on your no-claims bonus for this type of situation.

Rachel Wait, consumer affairs spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said:

“Only one in four victims of vandalism decide to report their incident to their insurance company, possibly due to concerns about losing their no-claims discount. However, some insurance providers protect a driver’s no-claim bonus for cases of vandalism. Double check your policy as you may be protected without realising.

“A comprehensive car insurance policy is likely to cover you for these offences as opposed to a third-party policy. Be sure to shop around for the best deal online and look out for vandalism cover in your policy for peace of mind.”

Concerns about losing no-claims discounts may partly explain why only a quarter of all reported cases of vandalism have been claimed on the victim’s insurance. Making a claim also means you’ll have to pay an excess, and depending on high this is, this could be another reason why drivers are put off claiming.

Waseem Malik, Executive Managing Director of Claims at AXA said:

“Although vandalism happens relatively infrequently, it can be highly upsetting for car owners, not least disruptive to your day. Having a comprehensive insurance policy with the appropriate level of cover can be incredibly reassuring at times like these, especially if it includes benefits such as a courtesy car for while your car is being repaired.

“Sometimes, the quest for cheaper car insurance can often mean forgetting important cover features such as protection against vandalism, or customers choose excess levels so high it puts them off claiming for this type of damage. Although price is important, customers should never underestimate the value of comprehensive cover.”

While our research has found that cases of criminal damage to a vehicle are in fact highly unlikely, it is still something that drivers should be aware of and take steps to reduce the impact of, where possible. Steps could include parking vehicles in a garage or driveway, as well as taking out the right type of insurance to cover you.

We have more information on issues around car insurance in our wide range of guides and it’s fast, free and simple to enquire about a new quote.

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Police Force Area populations sourced from:

 https://www.ons.gov.uk/ from Table P3

Community Safety Partnership populations sourced from:


AXA direct motor claims data from 1st January 2017 to 31st December 2017

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