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Does London have a carjacking crisis? There have been two cases PER DAY in the capital in the last three years, report shows

This Is Money logo This Is Money 30/06/2022 Rob Hull For Thisismoney.co.uk

The number of carjacking cases taking place in the capital in recent years has been highlighted in a new report, with two incidents of aggravated vehicle taking recorded in London on average per day.

There have been 2,663 instances in the city, with Croydon having the highest volume of cases - some 139 in the three-year period - Metropolitan Police data for 2019 to 2021 provided to insurer Direct Line shows.

A convicted car thief interviewed for the insurer's study said the volume of cases is down to a 'new generation of kids' who 'tend to not be bothered about using violence' when stealing vehicles.

Does London have a carjacking crisis? Met Police data shows there were 2,663 cases of aggravated vehicle taking in the capital between 2019 and 2021 © Provided by This Is Money Does London have a carjacking crisis? Met Police data shows there were 2,663 cases of aggravated vehicle taking in the capital between 2019 and 2021

Aggravated vehicle taking refers to a vehicle being taken, but the theft also involved the use of dangerous driving, or when there is damage caused to a person, property, or the car itself during the process. 

Direct Line says London has seen nine incidents for every 10,000 registered vehicles in the last three years.

Not all will be 'car' jackings, per se. 

Many of these cases are likely to be motorcycle thefts, with criminal gangs arriving on scooters armed with bolt croppers and angle grinders in broad daylight to steal motorbikes, mopeds and scooters.

Croydon is the borough shown to have the most instances, accounting for five per cent (139 incidents) of the London total and 67 per cent higher than capital average.

Enfield is second with 132 aggravated vehicle takings between 2019 and 2021, followed by Newham (128) and Brent (125).

The data shows Kingston upon Thames (30), Kensington and Chelsea (40) and Richmond upon Thames (42) are the boroughs with the lowest cases of aggravated car theft in the three-year period. 

Top 10 London boroughs for aggravated vehicle takings, 2019-2021
London borough Total number of aggravated vehicle takings, 2019-2021 Number of aggravated vehicle takings per 10,000 vehicles
Croydon 139 8.8
Enfield 132 9.5
Newham 128 16.2
Brent 125 11.6
Lewisham 120 14.1
Ealing 110 8.2
Greenwich 101 11.5
Tower Hamlets 100 18.3
Lambeth 100 13.9
Barnet 100 6.5
All London boroughs 2,663 8.9
Source: Direct Line Motor Insurance: Data provided by Metropolitan Police (excluding City of London)

This is according to Met Police figures, attained by Direct Line and the University of Huddersfield as part of the 'Truth about Car Theft' campaign launched earlier this year.

This includes research into motor-related crime, including interviews with prolific car thieves to understand their motives. 

When asked about the rise in violent vehicle thefts in the capital, one car thief told the university: 'Here's a new generation of kids coming out now where, like I say, some of them, they tend to not be bothered about using violence, to get some of what they need.'

The penalties for those convicted of aggravated vehicle taking can result in a custodial prison sentence of up to two years. 

However, in incidents where an accident occurs resulting in death of another person the sentence can be much longer.

Lorraine Price, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, said: 'The research will raise questions as to whether the current penalties are sufficient and if more can be done to protect innocent motorists. 

'Our work with the University of Huddersfield aims to learn from the car thieves themselves, to help understand their motivation and what measures are needed to reduce this illegal activity.'

The conclusion of the campaign is that motorists should take action to protect their vehicles. 

Professor Rachel Armitage, Professor of Criminology, explains: 'While conducting our research we were able to gain invaluable insight into deterrents for car criminals. 

'We would encourage all car owners to take measures to keep their vehicle safe and not assume their area is off limits. 

'Simple acts such as not leaving valuables in your car, taking car keys to bed, and folding in wing mirrors could all help make a car look less attractive to criminals.'

Direct Line's 'TACKLED' tips to protect cars from thieves 

While car crime is never the fault of the victim, there are steps motorists can take to help reduce their risk of being targeted, or to help retrieve their vehicle if it is stolen:

Trackers: Using a tracker within your car can play a big part in getting your car retrieved

Alarms: Use of a motion-sensor alarm in your drive, particularly using a recorded voice, will typically deter a car thief from entering your car

Cleanliness: Having a clean car also helps, as a car thief will see a messy car and typically think there is something of value underneath the mess

Keys: Take your car keys up to bed with you, do not leave them downstairs. If a car thief can see keys on a table downstairs, they are likely to try and retrieve them to enter your car

Lights: Installing a flashing LED light onto the roof of your car can deter car thieves as it makes your vehicle more visible. Parking under a streetlight, or in a well-lit drive way, can also put thieves off

Entry/exit noise: For example, having a gravel driveway – noise is a deterrent for car thieves

Deterrents: A car behind a gate, lights, or even a dog are the biggest deterrent for car thieves

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