Additional reporting from Harriet Clugston, RADAR AI
Thefts of motor vehicles in Kent have risen by almost 50% in the last four years, new figures show.
RAC Insurance has urged drivers to do more to make their car a less easy target for opportunistic thieves, after "disturbing" figures revealed vehicle thefts are on the rise in almost every corner of Britain.
Kent Police dealt with 3,609 stolen vehicle reports in 2018-19, according to figures obtained by RAC Insurance - 49% more than the 2,429 cases seen in 2014-15.
Some 152,541 vehicles were stolen in 2018-19 across Britain, a rise of 56% compared to 2014-15.
RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures paint a rather disturbing picture. Vehicle thefts are on the rise almost everywhere, and in some parts of the country numbers are rocketing.
“It’s also not the case that the rises in crime are confined to a few larger urban areas, with many police forces covering more rural areas also seeing big increases.
“While vehicle crime is at far lower levels today than it was in the early 1990s thanks to improvements in vehicle security, and the number of vehicles licensed to be driven on the UK’s roads is higher than at any point in the past, it’s still concerning that so many more vehicles are being stolen than just a few years ago.”
The force that saw the biggest hike in offences was Suffolk Constabulary, where incidents increased by 172%, from 347 to 945. This was followed by Surrey Police, with a 133% increase, from 661 to 1,543.
Mr Williams believes the increase is partly due to a rise in thefts of vehicles that are easier to steal, such as motorbikes and mopeds which are less likely to have immobilisers.
Government data shows that thieves use a key in nearly half of incidents, indicating that many drivers can do more to protect their vehicles.
Mr Williams went on: “While organised criminal gangs are responsible for a large proportion of crime, thieves will also be opportunistic in nature so the more a driver can do to make their car a less likely target the better.”