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30,000 stolen vehicles a year never investigated by police

As many as 30,000 vehicle thefts a year are never investigated by police, according to a report by Accident Exchange and its fraud investigation team APU.

Data taken from 43 of the UK’s 45 police forces over the last six years reveals an estimated 117,000 cars are stolen every year, half of which are deemed ‘not worthy’ of police investigation and 59,000 are lost entirely.

That means, of the estimated total monetary loss of £450 million annually, £229 million of vehicles go uninvestigated by police ─ something APU says is likely due to ‘swinging cuts’ to police budgets.

APU calculated the monetary loss figures based on 59,000 vehicles never being recovered and multiplied it by the average used vehicle value in January 2015, which was £7,622, according to BCA.

Research by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) backed up the worrying trend, as it found police only attended 25 per cent of theft-related crimes in 2013.

APU estimates there were 700,000 theft-related car crimes between 2009 and 2014. APU director of investigative services Neil Thomas said:

“If a vehicle owned by a business rather than an individual – such as a fleet vehicle or garage courtesy car – goes missing, frequently the police tend to consider it a civil crime because the business has effectively allowed someone the use of that car.

“Increasing pressure on police forces in the form of budget cuts and overstretched resources means not enough time can be dedicated to the investigation and retrieval of stolen vehicles.

“But it isn’t just companies that are affected by the findings of our study – a proportion of those thefts not looked into will be private car owners too.”

“The monetary value of the lost vehicles can only be described as the tip of the iceberg, as many recovered vehicles are found damaged or burnt out and subsequently written off. In reality, the loss figure is likely to be higher still.

Mr Thomas added that a big part of the problem is the lack of colloboration between those involved: “This is further evidence that we need police, insurance firms, law enforcement agencies and private companies to join the dots and collaborate if we are going to truly take the fight to car thieves.”

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