London car theft warning as 10 worst-hit boroughs revealed (plus how to protect yourself)

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Car theft crisis
London data
10 worst-hit boroughs
Best five boroughs
Top tips to protect yourself
Insure yourself

Bad news, drivers: car theft in London is on the rise. After a lull during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, when millions were at home to keep a watchful eye on their vehicles, thefts are once again on the up.

Car theft crisis

September saw 2,558 instances of ‘theft or taking of a motor vehicle’, according to the Metropolitan Police. This is the highest monthly total since January 2020, before Covid hit Britain.

We’ve broken down the data to find the 10 worst-hit London boroughs for car thefts, as well as five boroughs recording the lowest incidents. Our experts have also had their say on how you can best protect your vehicle and avoid becoming a car theft statistic yourself.

TL;DR
Car theft is rising in London, with Barking & Dagenham the worst hit. Lock your cars, keep your keys secure and park in well-lit areas.

London’s car theft data

In the last five years (from September 2015 to September 2021) there have been 169,694 reported cases of car theft - an eye-watering number.

The situation spiked at over 3,000 incidents in October 2018, before hitting a low of 1,616 during April 2020 when lockdown was in full effect.

But the figures have snuck back up in the months since, jumping substantially in September this year to 2,558.

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10 worst-hit boroughs

We’ve crunched the numbers (sorting by incidents per 1,000 people, to keep things fair) to find the 10 worst-hit boroughs. Scotland Yard, who released the figures, said thieves were getting “an easy ride”.

The results indicate car theft is a problem wherever you are in the city, from Redbridge, Havering and Barking & Dagenham in the north-east, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham in the south-west, Greenwich in the south-east, to Brent in the north-west.

Car thefts from September 2015 to September 2021:

Borough Car thefts per 1,000 people
Barking & Dagenham 30.5
Havering 26.3
Redbridge 24.8
Kensington & Chelsea 24.3
Hammersmith & Fulham 23.8
Enfield 23.6
Haringey 22.2
Greenwich 21.2
Brent 20.8
Wandsworth 20.3

Barking & Dagenham was the worst-hit, with over 30 incidents of car theft per 1,000 people - more than four times worse than the borough best dealing with the crisis.

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On the other end of the scale were the following five boroughs, who recorded the lowest rate of car theft by population. These were predominantly located in southern areas of London, although Harrow in the north-west also recorded low numbers.

Car thefts from September 2015 to September 2021:

Borough Car thefts per 1,000 people
Kingston upon Thames 9.2
Harrow 10.3
Sutton 12.0
Richmond upon Thames 14.4
Merton 15.3

Kingston upon Thames was the best-performing borough in the capital, recording just 9.2 incidents per 1,000 people.

Top tips to protect yourself from car theft

Borough-wide stats are all well and good - but what really matters is what you can do to reduce the chances of your car being taken.

The Met Police has issued advice on how Londoners can best protect themselves from car theft. Here’s some of their top tips:

  • Lock your vehicle. It sounds simple but cars are stolen every year by opportunistic thieves. Cars left running on chilly mornings to de-ice or warm up are a particular problem - and insurers might not pay out in this case!
  • Keep your keys safe. This means you should try to avoid leaving them somewhere near your front door. Some thieves fish through letter boxes with hooks designed to snag your keys - so be careful.
  • Beware of car jackers. It’s always best to drive with your doors locked, and if you are bumped by another car, pull over in a place with other people. If you are worried, call 999.
  • Park responsibly. If you can’t park at home, try to avoid secluded areas and find a well-lit, busy street.
  • Upgrade your car’s security system. Fitting high-quality wheel locks, or a cover for cars with engine diagnostic ports, can put off thieves and make your car less of a threat.

Find out more about ways to protect yourself at the Met Police website.

Insure yourself

Unfortunately it’s impossible to totally protect yourself from car theft - so it’s best to make sure your car insurance covers such a situation.

Cuvva’s insurance policies - whether temporary car insurance or subscription car insurance - are fully comprehensive.

And if the worst happens and your car gets stolen, make sure you tell the police and your insurers as soon as possible.

Updated on 5th November 2021