Bangers for cash - low value car thefts on the increase according to Norwich Union claim statistics

Article date: 31 July 2008

As if the recent rise in fuel costs and the credit crunch are not making life hard enough for lower income families - they are also at most risk of having their car stolen, according to claims statistics from Norwich Union, the UK's largest insurer.

Norwich Union claims data shows that in 2007 the majority of car theft claims (87.4%) were for vehicles worth under £5,000. Older vehicles, 15-17 years old, are more than twice as likely to be stolen than newer vehicles.

With the global increase in demand for steel and other precious metals in developing countries there has been a sharp rise in the value of scrap metal, meaning that even the most tatty and rusty old banger is now appealing to thieves.

Martin Smith, technical claims manager, Norwich Union, said: "It is now a misconception that parking your old runabout next to a top of the range expensive car is going to draw attention away from your vehicle.  Opportunist thieves are more inclined to target older cars that are not fitted with immobilisers, rather than take on modern day security systems.

"Cars most likely to be stolen are older cars that are still around in high volumes, like the Ford Escort for example and the Vauxhall Astra. Low income families are more vulnerable, especially those living in urban areas as they may not have a garage or driveway or may have to park away from their home.

"These cars are very disposable and are often stolen to fulfil a short term purpose - such as to get home after a night out or transport stolen goods.  With the value of scrap metal on the increase, old cars have become increasingly profitable target for thieves."    

Claims statistics from Norwich Union also show that:

  • Your car is more prone to be stolen in the winter months, peaking around December and January where you are more than 25% likely to have your car stolen than in June/July. This could be linked to the number of hours of darkness.
  • You are 16% more likely to have your car stolen if it is a diesel.
  • Parking on a road you have a 17% higher chance of your car being stolen than if you parked on a driveway.
  • You are twice as susceptible of having your car stolen if you live in Yorkshire than if you live in the West Country.
  • On any one day you have around 1/150,000 chance that you car will be stolen.

Martin Smith added: "Cars are an essential part of our lives. Regardless of its age or value the theft of your car is likely to cause significant disruption and distress. If your vehicle is over 10 years old, seriously consider a Thatcham 2 Immobiliser which can be fitted for less than £100. High visibility physical deterrents such as steering or gear lever locks might also have some effect. In the case of some older or classic cars like the Land Rover, it takes seconds to remove the distributor rotor arm meaning the car will be going nowhere under its own power."


All figures are from Norwich Union motor claims statistics as of 21 July 2008.

Press office contacts:
Adam Cracknell
Norwich Union press office
Telephone: 01603 684 916

Notes to editors:

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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