Car thieves getting away with it – as 9 in 10 cases dropped by police

West Midlands Police
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Staistics show the crime is on the rise in Coventry

Car thieves in Coventry are getting away with the crime, with more than nine in ten cases dropped by police in the West Midlands.

The latest official figures from the Home Office reveal that there were 1,113 car thefts committed across Coventry in 2019/20 – up from 1,044 the year before.

They included 39 cases of aggravated car theft, where the stolen vehicle was then driven dangerously, damage was caused to the vehicle or other property or someone was injured.

Of the 10,241 car thefts recorded across the entire West Midlands in the last year, just 233 resulted in the suspect being charged or summonsed for the crime – two percent of the total.

It was much more likely for cases to be dropped altogether.

In 9,091 cases the investigation was dropped because no suspect was identified, while 756 saw it dropped because of difficulties with evidence.

Along with instances where further investigation or prosecution was not deemed in the public interest or was prevented (13 cases), it means 96 percent of cases saw car thieves get away with the crime altogether.

RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures suggest the outlook for people who are unlucky enough to have their cars stolen is bleak as the perpetrator is very unlikely to be brought to justice.

“This may be in part due to the reduction in police officer numbers, but is no doubt also due to the efficiency of well-organised criminal gangs in disposing of vehicles and the fact they leave little evidence for the police to pursue.

“Opportunistic thefts aside, it’s probably the case that the majority of cars are being stolen to order or broken up to sell the parts individually.

“It’s therefore vital drivers take steps to protect themselves and avoid being an easy target in the first place.”

As well as having a strong, comprehensive motor insurance policy, the RAC recommends the use of visual deterrents like steering wheel locks, and using a garage to securely store a car.

However, they also urge drivers not to forget to lock their car in the first place, as it’s estimated that in a fifth of thefts criminals are able to access cars because they weren’t locked.

Across the UK

Across England and Wales, there were 110,844 car thefts recorded in 2019/20 – down from 111,656 the year before.

That includes 5,063 cases of aggravated car theft.

The figures exclude Greater Manchester Police, who have had difficulties with their crime records IT system, and only go up to March 2020, so don’t reflect the situation in lockdown.

Of the car thefts recorded in the last year, just 3,950 resulted in someone being charged or summonsed – four percent of the total.

There were 82,776 cases where no suspect was identified, 16,807 cases that were dropped because of evidential difficulties, and 688 that were not in the public interest or where prosecution was prevented.

It means 90 percent of cases were dropped altogether.

What has the Police Federation said?

Ché Donald, national vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said:  “There are more than 10,000 fewer officers than in 2010 and my colleagues are trying to juggle public expectation with the ever-growing demands on policing. Our members simply cannot do everything they once could, and therefore Forces are having to prioritise.

“Lower priority offences are getting less attention than we would like and are often screened out. This means crimes are filed at the time they are reported, and officers aren’t sent to investigate a crime, as they aren’t aware that it occurred.

“It is positive to see the Government make good on promises to recruit an extra 20,000 officers and Forces are on the right track filling these new roles. The reality is it will take many years for the service to be repaired back to the level that it was 10 years ago.

“So, while it’s reassuring that these numbers are on the rise, the effect is yet to be felt on the ground by my colleagues or the public.”

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