Norwich Union car crime survey reveals autumn is peak season for vehicle thefts

Article date: 21 September 2006

British motorists are being warned to take extra precautionsagainst motor theft, as findings from a new survey on car crimeindicate that September, October and November are the most popularmonths for vehicle theft.

The survey is based on claims data over the last three yearsfrom Norwich Union, the UK’s largest insurer, and found thatdespite an overall decrease year-on-year in the number of vehiclesbeing stolen, car thefts peak in the Autumn months.

Nigel Bartram, motor underwriting manager, Norwich Union,explained: “The sustained increase in car theft over theAutumn months can be attributed to a few key factors. Most obviousis the shorter daylight hours – we all know that thievesprefer to work in the dark. And, after enjoying the summer eveningsoutdoors, many of us look forward to spending time indoors, whichin many cases means we’re not using our car as much in theevenings. We also see claims where cars have had pre-Christmasshopping in them – so the thief has made away with the carand Christmas gifts for friends and family!”

Norwich Union’s survey also reveals the changing face ofmotor crime in the UK. Nigel said: “Thieves are increasinglystealing cars for a much wider variety of purposes than a quicksale. Many stolen vehicles are stripped for parts. It’s nocoincidence that the top ten cars stolen in our survey1have hundreds or even thousands of used spare parts available fromprivate sellers online.

“It seems that in some instances it’s easier tosteal the car than just the contents inside. For example, we haveclaims where a car has been reported stolen from a supermarket carpark – fully loaded with the weekly shop – only for thevehicle to end up abandoned a mile or two away – minus thegroceries.

“We’ve also recovered a number of stolen vehicles inBlackpool and other seaside resorts – evidence that somethieves look at stealing a car as an alternative to publictransport – they use it as one-way transportation to theirholiday destination of choice.”

Norwich Union, which insures more than 1 in 7 cars on the road,said its Car Crime Survey shows that Sheffield is the UK’snumber one hotspot for vehicle theft2, as car ownersthere are more than five times as likely to have their vehiclestolen than anywhere else in the UK.

Findings from the survey indicate that vehicle theft is largelypolarised, with more than 80 per cent of motor theft made up ofolder vehicles (7 years or more) 3, though there is aslight increase in the number of new high value prestige carsreported stolen. 3Newer cars from mid-marketmanufacturers are proving too difficult to steal, and don’tjustify the risk for car thieves.

Nigel explains: “In 1997, new cars began being fitted withan immobiliser as standard, which has greatly reduced thefts ofnewer cars. Owners of vehicles that do not have an immobilisershould consider fitting a Thatcham approved Category 2 immobiliser:even though the monetary value of some older vehicles isn’tthat great, in many cases, the inconvenience and emotional upset inthe incidence of a theft outweighs the vehicle’svalue.”

Nigel concludes: “Whilst we are pleased to see a continuedimprovement in the decline in numbers of stolen vehicles, we wouldurge all motorists to follow the basic steps of vehiclesecurity4 and continue to be vigilant with their vehicle– especially as the ‘peak season’ for car theftis upon us.”

1Top 10 Older Cars Reported Stolen

  1. Ford Orion
  2. Vauxhall Nova
  3. Rover Montego
  4. Rover Metro
  5. Rover Maestro
  6. Vauxhall Cavalier
  7. Ford Sierra
  8. Ford Escort
  9. Vauxhall Astra
  10. Vauxhall Carlton

Top 10 High Value Cars Reported Stolen

  1. Mercedes ML
  2. Landrover Rangerover
  3. BMW 3 Series
  4. Porsche 911
  5. BMW 5 Series
  6. Jaguar XJ6
  7. Audi A3
  8. Landrover Discovery
  9. Mercedes SLK
  10. BMW X5

2Top Ten UK Car Crime Hotspots (please also seeattached UK Car Crime Map)

  1. Sheffield
  2. Grimsby
  3. Hull
  4. Leeds
  5. Middlesborough
  6. Bradford
  7. Manchester
  8. Grays, East London
  9. Nottingham
  10. Doncaster

3Theft Frequency by Vehicle Age

Graph showing theft frequency by vehicle age

4Norwich Union has prepared a list of helpful tips toreduce the incidence of car crime. They are:

  • Don’t leave your car with keys in ignition –ever!
  • Don’t leave anything on display – especiallysatellite navigation systems – when you park your car.
  • If your car was made before 1997, have a Thatcham approvedCategory 2 engine immobiliser fitted.
  • Use your garage if you have one – you’ll save onyour insurance premium, too!
  • If parking outside, use an attended car park.
  • Have your car fitted with a car alarm.
  • Use locking wheel nuts to stop thieves from taking yourwheels.
  • Have your car registration number or the last 7 digits of yourVehicle Identification Number (VIN) etched onto all windows, bothwindscreens and your headlamps.
  • Mark all your car equipment, like your car stereo, with yourvehicle registration number.
  • If you are thinking of buying a car, get an HPI check to makesure it hasn’t been reported stolen or written-off by aninsurance company.

The Norwich Union UK Car Crime Map

Image of Great Britain highlighting areas of UK car crime

Download fullsize map PDF (58Kb)

Notes to editors

The information in the Norwich Union Motor Theft Survey is basedon Norwich Union’s claims data from the period 2003 -2005

About Norwich Union

Norwich Union is the UK’s largestgeneral insurer with a market share of around 14%, with a focus oninsurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensionsand investment products and one of the largest Financial Adviser(FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-termsavings business in the UK.

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

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