More than half of stolen cars are never recovered

More than half of stolen cars are never recovered
More than half of stolen cars are never recovered

More than half of cars stolen in the UK are never recovered by police, according to new figures.

Data obtained by Auto Express shows that countrywide recovery rates are just 45.31 per cent over the past decade and have only reached 50 per cent once in the last 10 years.

Within that, recovery rates varied massively between forces. West Midlands Police recorded the worst recovery rate of just 11.73 per cent for the years between 2009 and 2018 while at the other end of the table, Merseyside recovered 75.27 per cent of stolen vehicles.

Read more: UK car theft hotspots revealed

In total, across the 25 forces which supplied data, 522,214 vehicles were stolen between 2009 and 2018 with 236,636 recorded as having been recovered.

Worst recovery rates

Force Recovery rate 2009-18
West Midlands   11.73%
Lincolnshire   17.33%
Dorset   21.17%

Complete figures haven’t been compiled for 2018 but the available data suggest another fall in recovery rates to 40 per cent. 2011 was the worst year with just 40 per cent of stolen vehicles recovered. Since the high of 50 per cent in 2017 the figure has fallen again – to 48.48 per cent in 2016 and 46.46 per cent in 2017 (the last year for which there is full data).

The Auto Express investigation only received data from just over half of UK police forces and some of them admitted that their figures were incomplete or contained inaccuracies but the data represents the most complete record available.

stolen car recovery
Recovery rates vary from just 11% in the worst-performing force area to 75% in the best-performing. Picture: Shutterstock

The figures come in the wake of news that 2017 saw car thefts reach a six-year high, with 43,308 cars reported stolen.

Best recovery rates

Force Recovery rate 2009-18
Merseyside   75.27%
Northumbria   69.17%
Greater Manchester   57.81%

Simon Williams, insurance spokesman for the RAC, told Auto Express: “Drivers might be surprised to discover that on average less than half of vehicles stolen from these police force areas end up being recorded as recovered, with the proportion in some parts of the country far lower than this. Combine this with the fact that vehicle thefts are actually increasing and a rather alarming picture is painted.

“The fact that data appears to be collected and analysed inconsistently in some cases is also a worry – this data is surely the only way to understand the scale of the problem [and] clearer data would support their case for additional government spending.”

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