The number of vehicles vandalised in England and Wales has increased by 10% in the last three years, according to data seen by RAC Insurance.
A total of 210,418 vehicles were reported to have suffered criminal damage such as deliberate scratches, slashed tyres, snapped windscreen wipers, smashed wing mirrors and broken windows in 2016 – 19,238 more than in 2013 when 191,180 were vandalised.
Responses to a freedom of information request from 40 police forces in England and Wales made by RAC Insurance reveal that the Greater Manchester Police area experienced the biggest rise with 37% more vehicles being damaged in 2013 than 2016 – 10,670 incidents compared to 14,588 last year.
The area also recorded the highest number of vehicle vandalism offences outside of London (the Metropolitan Police force area) which had 26,064 in 2016, equating to 12% of all cases across the country.
Hertfordshire Constabulary and West Yorkshire Police both had the second greatest increase at 25% each. Due to the higher population in West Yorkshire, however, the number of incidents was far larger – 10,051 in 2013 versus 12,542 in 2016.
The West Yorkshire force had the second largest number of offences of this type outside of London. Hertfordshire experienced 3,766 four years ago compared to 4,714 last year.
RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said:
“Vandalism is one of the most frustrating and annoying crimes. Not only do many motorists who experience this have to go through the insurance claims process and the time-consuming and inconvenient experience of getting the vehicle repaired, they will also suffer an inevitable premium rise and then have to declare the claim for three years whenever they apply for a new policy.”
Godfrey also noted; “In reality, however, the overall figure for the number of vehicles vandalised is probably far higher as many motorists may neither report it to the police nor claim on insurance for fear of causing their next insurance premium to go up.”
Insurance Edge Comment:
ARE MANY `VANDALISM’ ATTACKS ACTUALLY VENDETTAS?
Most of us reading Insurance Edge will have had our cars dented or scratched in supermarket car parks, or perhaps `keyed’ by drunks wandering home on a Saturday night. But there is evidence of professional, organised attacks, committed by those who have a score to settle with individuals, businesses or particular communities.
Two car dealerships in Colchester suffered damage to several vehicles in August. Meanwhile in Bingley, Yorkshire one man attacked over 30 cars in a particular suburb around 5.30am, taking enough time to use rocks and plant pots to break windows. On the Buttershaw estate in Bradford Yorkshire, a member of the Neighbourhood Watch had blue paint thrown over his Land Rover and Vauxhall Corsa.
If you trawl the local press you can find many examples of such incidents every week across the UK and they betray a willingness to damage property out of spite and pre-planned malice, not `mindless’ vandalism. In fact, there’s nothing mindless about a sustained campaign against someone’s property.
Eventually the car insurance sector will have to use social media, artificial intelligence and a detailed, shareable, GPS maps database, to separate the genuine vandalism from the more sinister, (and therefore more likely to re-occur,) attacks on cars and commercial vehicles.