Car crime capitals of the UK
Discovering that your car has been stolen, or even broken into is a nightmare scenario for any driver. Despite many of us take precautions against becoming a victim of these types of crimes, our research shows that almost one in five UK drivers (19%) have had a car stolen in the past1.
Our car insurance team has carried out research which looks into just how common car break-ins and thefts are, as well as which areas of the UK and specific parking locations are most commonly targeted by criminals.
Which cities are the worst for car thefts and break-ins?
Our research reveals that almost a fifth of UK drivers (19%) have had a car stolen, and more than a third (34%) have had one broken into in the past. Although car thefts and break-ins are experienced across the whole of the UK, drivers in some cities are at a higher risk of becoming victims to these crimes than others.
When it comes to the most dangerous cities for car thefts and break-ins, Leeds tops the list for both crimes. In fact, the research suggests that 27% of Leeds-based drivers have previously had a car stolen, and 44% have had one broken into.
Interestingly, both figures are greater than the rates for these crimes in London. However, that’s not to say that car crime isn’t prevalent in the capital, as London follows closely behind Leeds for number of break-ins, with 39% of its drivers having experienced one, while 22% of London based drivers have experienced theft of a vehicle.
Looking at thefts specifically, Newcastle ranks as the second most likely city to have your car stolen in, with 24% of drivers reporting they’ve fallen victim to this.
The tables below show the top five cities where the highest percentage of drivers have had their cars stolen or broken into respectively.
|Rank||City||A car being stolen|
|Rank||City||A car broken into|
Which specific parking locations are targeted most by criminals?
Our research suggests that 17% of all reported car thefts took place while the car was parked on the street outside of the victim’s home. After that, the research reveals that 13% of cars were stolen from on-street parking in a residential area and 11% were stolen from a driveway.
Although parking on a driveway means you’re less likely to have your car knocked into by another driver, it can still be spotted and accessed by thieves. Keyless car theft in particular is easier for criminals to do when the car is parked in close proximity to the keys in the house.
Looking at break-ins specifically, the driveway is the most-targeted parking location with 18% taking place here. 17% took place on the street outside of where the car owner lived and 16% were broken into on a street in a residential area.
The table below shows the top three most-targeted parking locations for car thefts and break-ins.
|Location||My car broken into||My car being stolen|
|On the street outside where I live||17%||17%|
|On the street in a residential area||16%||13%|
|On my driveway||18%||11%|
|At my place of work||7%||
|In a city/town centre||8%||8%|
|On the street in a city/town centre||9%||7%|
How many drivers take extra precautions to protect their cars?
Almost a third of drivers across the UK (32%) admit to taking no further precautions to secure their cars, leaving them vulnerable to thefts and break-ins. But which city’s drivers are the worst at keeping their cars safe from criminals?
Drivers in Brighton are the least protective of their cars, with more than two fifths of drivers (44%) reporting that they do nothing extra to ensure the security of their vehicles.
Edinburgh follows closely behind with 42% and Leeds ranks third with 41% of drivers failing to take extra precautions, despite the fact that drivers there are more prone to car thefts and break-ins than in any other UK city.
At the other end of the scale, 74% of drivers in Belfast admit to taking extra precautions to prevent thefts or break-ins, which makes it the city with the highest proportion of drivers that take extra care to prevent car thefts and break-ins. Birmingham, Sheffield and London follow with 72% of drivers claiming to take extra precautions to ensure the security of their cars.
Top tips for preventing car thefts and break-ins
With our survey revealing that almost a third of drivers take no extra precautions to prevent car thefts and break-ins, car and technology expert, Rory Reid, shares his tips to keeping our vehicles safe:
- Always double-check that the car is locked before you leave it, even if you’re at home or just popping into the petrol station kiosk.
- Think about where you park. You should avoid secluded areas and ideally choose a car park that’s well-lit and manned, or one with a Park Mark safer parking award.
- Take your valuables with you or hide them from sight. Even a charger cable could be of value to someone, and it may hint at there being a device inside the car.
- Store your key in a signal-blocking pouch if you have keyless entry. This will prevent thieves from cloning your key’s signal and tricking your car into unlocking.
- Consider getting a Thatcham-approved alarm system with tracking, immobilisation and anti-grab sensors fitted. This’ll help to protect and trace your car if it’s stolen.
Methodology & sources
Results gathered from a survey of 2,013 17+ UK drivers, conducted between 29.07.2022 - 01.08.2022.
1All data based on and refers to respondents who have experienced car theft or break-ins over the past five years, or more.