Greater London is the car theft capital of the UK by a mile, according to an extensive study by a leading motor insurer.

Co-op Insurance found that the top 10 areas with highest rates of car crime in the UK are all found in London.

Based on the frequency of car theft claims as a percentage of policies in specific areas between 2017 and 2021, the London borough of Islington has the most car theft crimes, while the district of Torridge in Devon has the lowest.

Top 20 UK vehicle theft hotspots (by frequency of claims)

 Postcode Area
1Islington
2Wandsworth
3City of London
4Camden
5Westminster
6Redbridge
7Hammersmith and Fulham
8Hackney
9Barking and Dagenham
10Haringey
11Waltham Forest
12Brent
13Newham
14Greenwich
15Havering
16Birmingham
17Lewisham
18Solihull
19Southwark
20Epping Forest
Co-op Insurance, 2017-2021

When it comes to which makes and models of cars are most likely to be targeted, the study reveals that it is smaller, lower-priced vehicles that are favoured by thieves.

The three cars stolen most frequently, by volume of total claims over the four years, are the Ford Fiesta, the Honda Jazz and the Ford Focus.

Top 20 postcodes outside London most likely to have a theft (by frequency of claims)

 Postcode Area
1Birmingham
2Solihull
3Manchester
4Dudley
5Coventry
6Salford
7Rochdale
8Oldham
9Bolton
10Kingston upon Hull
11Wolverhampton
12Luton
13Liverpool
14Walsall
15North Warwickshire
16West Berkshire
17Tameside
18Bradford
19Stockport
20Kingston upon Thames
Co-op Insurance, 2017-2021

“We want to do all we can to help car owners keep their vehicles safe – they can do this by researching car crime levels in their own area and by following some simple steps that will deter a thief,” said Paul Evans, Head of Motor Insurance at Co-op Insurance.

Top tips to beat the car thieves

  1. Think before you park: if your car’s not at home, if possible, park it in a well-lit area, near to people and other cars and somewhere where it can easily be seen, preferably monitored by CCTV or a security patrol.
  2. Wheels at an angle: when parking on the street, make sure your car wheels are facing the curb (unless parking uphill or on a hill). This means that anyone trying to speed off in your car will have to release the steering wheel lock first. It also helps eliminate the chance of a thief towing or pushing your car away to a quieter spot.
  3. Invest in deterrents: something as simple as a visible steering lock can really put a car thief off. If you don’t have one fitted, and you have the resources, consider adding a car alarm, immobiliser, tracking device or dash cam.
  4. Doors to manual: you might think that by clicking your key fob, your car has automatically been locked but increasingly inexpensive remote-control jamming technology can be purchased online which blocks signals to your car: this means you’re unknowingly leaving it completely unlocked and not alarmed. Always make sure to manually check the doors and boot before you walk away.
  5. Avoid temptation: never leave valuable objects such as bags, clothes, sat navs, designer sunglasses, loose change, or mobile phones on display. This could prompt an opportunistic thief to smash a window and take your belongings. Ensure your car looks empty and free from expensive items.
  6. Switch off your engine: don’t leave your car running whilst you nip off to run an errand – you’re making it too easy for car thieves to take advantage of an empty driving seat.
  7. Fuel stations: if no one is sitting in your car, lock it as you go to pay for your fuel otherwise this gives a thief an ideal opportunity to strike.
  8. Be surroundings aware: to avoid being a victim of carjacking, when in slow moving traffic or a traffic jam, lock your windows and doors, place valuables out of sight and remain alert, especially if travelling at night or driving a convertible.