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Opportunistic thieves are still out in force during lockdown

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Roads may have been 70% quieter during the lockdown, but the number of vehicle-related crimes barely changed

You may expect that if there are fewer people on the roads, parking up in public spaces and ultimately leaving their vehicles unattended for hours at a time, then theft of (or from) motorcycles, vans, caravans and cars would drop right down. Unfortunately, that simply wasn’t the case as the nation went into lockdown.

We looked at the latest police forces crime figures, and discovered that there were a reported 32,350 vehicle crimes in March 2020, down only 10% from 35,894 in February 2020.

Comparing the March 2020 figures with those from the same month last year (March 2019), there was also only a slight decline of 14%.

To clarify, vehicle crime is defined by UK Crime Stats as:

  1. Aggravated vehicle taking
  2. Theft from a motor vehicle
  3. Theft from vehicle other than a motor vehicle
  4. Theft of a motor vehicle and/or interference with a motor vehicle.

Data from VivacityLabs.com on traffic flow (aka the number of car, motorcycles etc. on roads), showed that just before lockdown began (21 March), there were 40% fewer vehicles on UK roads. By 29 March, average traffic flow was just 30% of ‘normal’ levels (down 70%).

So, why is crime still so high if so many vehicles are not leaving our driveways?

Believe it or not, but many of the vehicle crimes taking place involve opportunistic thieves who are not shy of ‘window shopping’ on your street or estate – even if you’re just a few feet away.

Some police forces even reported higher vehicle crime figures than pre-lockdown. Motorists and caravan-owners in these areas should remain particularly vigilant:

  • Lincolnshire: 35% higher (269 in March, versus 199 in February)
  • Dyfed-Powys: 21% higher (75 in March, versus 62 in February)
  • Lancashire: 18% higher (763 in March, versus 644 in February)
  • Cleveland: 16% higher (298 in March, versus 256 in February)
  • Cambridgeshire: 5% higher (503 in March, versus 481 in February)
  • Nottinghamshire: 2% higher (731 in March, versus 717 in February)
  • Northumbria: 1% higher (716 in March, versus 706 in February)
  • Dorset: 1% higher (358 in March, versus 356 in February)

London’s Metropolitan Police recorded the highest total number of vehicle crimes in March (9,622), followed by West Midlands Police (2,630) and West Yorkshire Police (1,533).

The lowest number of vehicle crimes was recorded by the City of London Police (20), whose jurisdiction covers an area of just 1.1 sq miles in England’s capital city.

So what can you do to keep your car, motorcycle or caravan safe? Here are a few tips:

  1. If possible, park up somewhere where you can easily keen an eye on your vehicle or caravan from your home OR store vehicles in locked up garages if you can.
  2. Be visible to opportunistic thieves by keeping ground floor blinds/curtains open when you’re at home. Make thieves aware that you are close by.
  3. If you are leaving your home for exercise or shopping, try to vary the times you go out. If thieves can’t easily predict when you will or won’t be out it is harder for them to plan a theft.
  4. Use a steering wheel lock to secure your car, and a disc lock/grip lock and chain lock to secure your motorcycle.
  5. Keep any valuables out of sight inside vehicles. Loose change, sat navs and gym bags can look very tempting to thieves.
  6. Ensure you have the insurance cover you need, so you’re not out of pocket if your vehicle is stolen.

Take a look at our latest safety hazards brainteaser for more tips.

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