Essex may be known as a county of boy racers and fast car lovers, but it has also has a number of postcodes in which drivers are more likely to have their motors pinched than anywhere else in Britain.
The IG postcode of Ilford has been named the location where vehicles are most at risk, according to a new report.
Second on the list is Romford and its RM postcode and both have far higher than average vehicle thefts, according to data from Moneysupermarket.
The Only Way is Car Theft: Essex postcodes dominated the top 10 UK locations where car thefts are reported most commonly, according to new statistics
The analysis is based on more than 5.8million motor insurance enquiries between July 2019 and June 2020, with the crime reports covering a five-year period.
There were a staggering 20.3 car thefts reported per 1,000 people in Ilford, earning it the moniker of the UK’s postcode where vehicles are most likely to be nicked.
Just six miles across the A12 in Romford, there were a recorded 19.1 car thefts per 1,000 people, which was the second highest rating of all UK areas.
Further down the A13, Southend-on-Sea was also among the top 10 most vulnerable spots with 11.99 reports of car crime per 1,000 people respectively – but this is almost half the figure of Ilford, showing just how bad the problem is in the IG postcode.
The SS postcode truly is in Essex, while the other two (IG and RM) in the list are technically in London – but it depends on who you ask.
Essex postcodes topped the standing for the most car crimes, according to the new report published this week
Ilford, Romford and Southend-on-Sea all made it into the list, while East London also had a high rate of car thefts
The analysis by the comparison site showed that cars kept in Birmingham are also under high threat.
The Midlands city was third in the rankings with 16.5 thefts per 1,000 inhabitants.
North London is also a risky location for vehicle owners, with 14.2 thefts per 1,000 people in the last five years, which is higher than the capital’s average, recorded at 11.2 per 1,000 capita.
The research found that less inhabited parts of the country are were vehicles are most secure,
The Orkney Islands town of Kirkwall is the safest spot for drivers, said Moneysupermarket, with the lowest rate of reported car thefts at 0.5 per 1000 enquiries.
Other Scottish locations including Inverness (0.8), Perth (1.1) and Galashiels (1.2) follow as the next safest locations in the UK.
The coastal port town of Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands (pictured) is the postcode with the fewest reported car thefts since 2015, Moneysupermarket says
These are the postcodes where motor insurance enquiries suggest the fewest car thefts have taken place in the last 5 years
Dave Merrick, car insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: ‘When comparing car insurance quotes, providers will take your location into account which may impact the cost of your premiums.
‘Fully comprehensive car insurance policies are a good option for drivers to protect themselves from theft, accidental damages and loss of personal items.
‘Having the right car insurance in place for your needs will help minimise the financial impact of theft.
‘If your policy is up for renewal, make sure you shop around for the best deal – doing so can save you up to £287.’
The spike in vehicle thefts in recent years is due to the increased use of keyless car crime, with thieves using ‘relay attacks’ to steal modern cars with keyless entry and engine start
Crime on the risk sparked by soaring cases of keyless car thefts
According to recent reports, at least 300 cars are stolen in Britain every day – but fewer than two result in convictions.
Police said 106,291 vehicles were taken last year, a rise of 50 per cent in six years, according to the Office of National Statistics.
But the Ministry of Justice said only 666 offenders were found guilty, of which 243 were jailed.
This means 99.4 per cent of car thieves escape justice – and of the small number sent to prison, most were out within nine months.
Insurers paid out a record £413million in claims for stolen cars last year – up from £376million in 2018.
MoneySuperMarket’s data also gave some insight into which age groups are most and least susceptible to vehicle crime.
Drivers aged 40-49 face the highest risk of car theft (8.6), whilst those aged 17-to-19 years are least likely to report their vehicle stolen (1.5) – most likely due to older generations possessing more desirable cars.
The recent surge crime has been fuelled by a rise in keyless thefts in which crooks use hi-tech devices to unlock vehicles without breaking the locks or windows.
Many modern cars don’t need to be physically unlocked when the owner wants to open the door – the proximity of the hi-tech key fob in the driver’s pocket is enough to gain access.
To steal such a vehicle, one thief stands beside it with a transmitter while another moves a small amplifier around the perimeter of the owner’s house until it detects a signal from the car key fob inside.
MoneySuperMarket’s 5 top tips for keeping your car secure
1. Investing in windows made from security glass or Enhanced Protection Glazing, which are designed to prevent ‘smash and grab’ attacks, can protect you against damage to your vehicle.
2. Take care of your vehicle’s documents and don’t leave any records in the car. Should your car be stolen, this will make it easier for thieves to sell your vehicle or steal your identity. Instead, try keeping all important documents in a safe location at home.
3. Additional security devices such as tracking devices and steering wheel locks will not only act as good deterrents but also a method of tracing missing vehicles. These security devices will minimise damage and increase the chance of recovery.
4. It’s important to keep your keys out of reach of thieves, so make sure they’re not easily accessible or in view at home. It’s possible for thieves to steal your keys from inside your home through the letterbox, so avoid leaving them near your front door.
5. Ensure that expensive technology isn’t left in sight of any passers-by as you leave the vehicle. By removing valuables from your car such as your sat-nav or stereo, this will offset any opportunists who may be tempted.
The amplifier then relays the signal to the transmitter, which effectively becomes the key by passing it on to the car’s security system, tricking it into thinking the real key is nearby.
This so-called relay theft can take just 60 seconds.
Luxury vehicles are usually stolen to order and shipped abroad or dismantled in illegal backstreet ‘chop shops’ before the parts are sold on.
While thieves may earn just £1,500 per vehicle, it remains a lucrative crime, and West Midlands Police shut down around 100 chop shops last year.
David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said last month: ‘It is a total disgrace that manufacturers allow their sophisticated, hi-tech vehicles to be stolen by 17-year-old kids within 40 seconds.
‘Some manufacturers have started to take responsibility – but for years they have been doing virtually nothing on keyless theft.
‘They always seem to be about three phases behind the criminals because the keyless access technology is developing so quickly.
‘It has become a multi-billion-pound business. The problem is, we have lost a quarter of police officers in ten years and have started to prioritise other crimes. In some areas, roads policing is almost non-existent.’
Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Sims, head of vehicle crime on the National Police Chiefs Council, added: ‘The increase in vehicle theft is clearly linked to organised crime and police are putting more resources into tackling it.
‘This is not a low-level offence – it is a serious crime which causes distress to victims and we do take it seriously.
‘The rapid development of technology has dramatically improved the experience of drivers, but it has also allowed criminals to exploit weaknesses in electronic security.’