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Ford Transit vans, Ford Fiestas, and Land Rover Discovery among most reported stolen in Kent

Nearly 2,500 vehicles were reportedly swiped from the county’s streets last year, it has been revealed.

Data from Kent Police shows Ford Transit vans, Ford Fiestas, and Land Rover Discoveries are some of the most targeted with hundreds of drivers registering them as stolen.

A Ford Transit van was stolen in Sittingbourne last year. Picture: Angela Palmer
A Ford Transit van was stolen in Sittingbourne last year. Picture: Angela Palmer

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by KentOnline revealed 2,429 vehicles were reported stolen in Kent last year - a 4% increase from 2022 (2,332).

It is also the highest number in the past five years with 2,033 vehicles being taken in 2019, 1,740 in 2020 and 1,697 in 2021.

Since 2019, almost 850 Ford Transit vans have been allegedly stolen making it the most targeted vehicle. In 2023, 191 went missing.

The data has been extracted from the force’s crime recording system Athena and shows the number of investigations recorded as a theft of a motor vehicle.

When recording an offence, the inputting officer can state the make and model, however, it relies on what has been entered.

This means some of the data has only been partially filled out and when analysing the data KentOnline has chosen to focus on those where both fields have been recorded.

The vehicles stolen in Kent in 2023
The vehicles stolen in Kent in 2023

Technical director at specialist motor insurance loss adjuster Claims Management and Adjusting (CMA), based in West Malling, and part of the QuestGates Group, Philip Swift explained why Ford Transits are amongst those targeted the most.

He said: “They are a popular vehicle. You have got to have some sympathy for Ford, because of its popularity there is a demand for its product.

“It is not necessarily the security is poorer than any other vehicle, it is simply that there is a demand for it, their price level is good and the vans have work tools.

“They are the beasts that are used day in and day out, they can get high mileage, they need replacement parts and that is why these transits are stolen.

“They are just high-demand vehicles.”

The former detective added transit vans are usually used by labourers who store tools or other equipment in them and thieves may target the vehicle as they might get something else with it.

KentOnline previously reported how a 72-year-old builder’s white transit van and £3,000 worth of tools were stolen last year.

The theft happened in the early hours in Nettlestead Green and left Michael Kyne “devastated”.

A few months later, KentOnline reported how another transit van was stolen from someone’s driveway in Chaucer Road, Sittingbourne.

The vehicle belonged to a scout group which used it to help collect recycling, their main source of fundraising.

The data set also revealed 379 Ford Fiestas were reported stolen in the last five years - 112 in 2023.

Philip explained it is again due to the popularity of the brand. He added: “You have got a highly popular vehicle and they can have breakdowns and you need components.

Technical director Philip Swift explains the data. Picture: CMA
Technical director Philip Swift explains the data. Picture: CMA

“There is a demand to either take them and use them as a whole or for their components because there is such a large pool of them out there.”

Honda and Yamaha motorcycles were also high on the list, however, the models were not disclosed.

Despite the number stolen, Philip explained that the recovery rate is low at around 5.5%.

He added: “To know that 19 in 20 cars are not going to be found is frankly astonishing. It makes you wonder where they all go, why we do not know more and why we are not doing more.”

Philip said in the year 2000 there were 500,000 vehicles a year were being reported stolen nationally and in a bid to reduce numbers, manufacturers introduced an extra layer of security.

This meant thieves who had overcome the mechanical lock could not start the engine and drive off easily.

Philip, who has 30 years of experience dealing with thefts, added: “Manufacturers effectively designed out opportunist theft.

“Vehicle crime plummeted and we distilled the vehicle theft pool by removing amateurs and opportunists. We were then left with professionals.”

Ford Fiestas are one of the most targeted cars in the county
Ford Fiestas are one of the most targeted cars in the county

He explained that 24 years later thieves have evolved and now understand the security systems and can find their ways around them, meaning vehicle crime is continuing to rise.

Despite this, he said drivers should not be overly concerned with keyless thefts stating many vehicles are often taken during burglaries.

“It is quite obvious that criminals want keys,” he added. “They are not all being taken with sophisticated equipment.

“If that is your concern, you have got to keep the key somewhere safe, away from the vehicle.

“If you can keep your keys safe you will reduce your vulnerability. Either keep them away from the vehicle when it is parked or at all other times know where they are.”

Advice on Kent Police’s website tells drivers to ensure their vehicles are locked, keys are kept safe, park responsibly and double-check the electronic locking to keep their motors safe.

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